UK
18/05/2014 21:40 BST | Updated 18/05/2014 22:59 BST

Pyongyang Building Collapse: North Korean Government Apologises As Hundreds Feared Dead (PICTURES)

The North Korean government has made a rare public apology over the collapse of an apartment block in Pyongyang that could have killed many people.

The ultra-secretive state revealed the accident via its news agency, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), that did not state how many people had died.

A South Korean official said they believed hundreds could have died in the building collapse, which was under construction.

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The secretive state said nothing about how many people had died

"The construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner," KCNA reported. It also said the government expressed its "profound consolation and apology".

The KCNA report was the first public announcement of the accident, which happened on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that an anonymous South Korean government official said the 23-story apartment building that collapsed was believed to have housed 92 families.

That could mean the casualties could be in the hundreds because a typical North Korean family has four members, the official said.

The KCNA report said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had "sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident".

North Korea typically only announces positive news, designed to reflect well on the regime, so the announcement is extremely rare.

Photos were even issued that showed people mourning at the scene of the accident. The rescue operation ended on Saturday.

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Officials were also pictured mourning

"This accident happened because they broke the rules and methods of construction," local resident Pak Chol told The Associated Press.

"After this accident, we must make sure that this kind of terrible accident never happens again, by sticking to the proper method of building."

Another resident, Hong Nam Hyok, said that "everyone in Pyongyang is now sharing the sorrow of the victims and the bereaved families."