U.N. chief 'deeply saddened' at collapse of N. Korean apartment

NEW YORK, May 19 (Yonhap) -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday voiced deep sorrow at the loss of lives and injuries from the collapse of a residential building in the North Korean capital, according to his office.

Ban's "thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people" of North Korea, his spokesperson said in a note on the U.N.'s Web site.

Ban, formerly a South Korean foreign minister, expressed the U.N.'s solidarity with the North Korean government and offered assistance, added the spokesperson.

The communist nation's state news agency KCNA reported a 23-story apartment building in Pyongyang collapsed last week. It did not specify the death toll.

South Korean intelligence sources say many people seem to have been killed as it housed more than 90 families.

North Korean officials offered a public apology for the disaster, which was attributable to improper construction, KCNA reported.

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