North Korea, as per its custom, tried to keep quiet what happened in Ryongchon. But because the town was on the border, the explosions could be heard in China, and the large amount of smoke seen as well. In addition, commercial photo satellites quickly made available detailed photos of the devastation. So the North Koreans admitted that the accident had occurred, and, in an uncharacteristic move, asked for international aid. Considering the low state of medical care in North Korea (little medical equipment and few medical supplies, except at a few hospitals used by senior government officials), this was a smart move. Ryongchon, being a border town, sees a lot of people traveling back and forth to China. Stories about injured people suffering and dying from their injuries because of poor medical care would get out. The North Koreans have also apparently accepted the fact that the rest of the world now knows that the country has been bankrupt and in economic decline for over a decade, and increasingly suffering from lack of repairs on its infrastructure.