The witness accounts come from a group of 21 defectors who used to live in the region who were interviewed by the Research Association of Vision of North Korea, according to the South Korean Chosun
One defector said people in the region are worried about contamination from radiation.
“I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there,” another said.
Another former resident, referring to the regime’s most recent nuclear test, said: “I spoke on the phone with family members I left behind there and they told me that all of the underground wells dried up after the sixth nuclear test.”
The defectors, which include one person who claimed to have experienced two nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, said locals were not warned in advance.
“Only family members of soldiers were evacuated to underground shafts,” they said. “Ordinary people were completely unaware of the tests.”
Other sources said residents from Kilju have been banned from making hospital appointments in the capital, Pyongyang, since the most recent nuclear test.
Officials are reportedly attempting to contain leaks from the area by arresting anyone caught bording trains from Kilju with samples of soil, water or leaves, and sending them to prison camps. (The Independent)