'Deformed babies' born in wasteland near North Korea underground nuclear test site

This satellite image shows the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea, close to where babies are reportedly being born with deformities (AP)

Defectors from North Korea have claimed that babies born close to an underground nuclear test site in the county suffer from severe deformities.

The area surrounding Punggye-ri has reportedly become a wasteland where 80% of trees planted die, while underground wells have run dry, according to the 21 former residents of the secretive state.

Locals in Kilju county, the location of the site, now fear that radioactive contamination is destroying the area.

North Korea is ramping up its nuclear missile programme (AP)

One of those who escaped from the North Korea told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper: “I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there.”

Another added: “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.”

One defector told the newspaper that locals were not warned of any tests, while family members of soldiers were moved to underground shafts.

Most popular on Yahoo News UK:

Elderly couple’s home destroyed when giant FIREWORK exploded through the roof
Judge urged not to jail elderly driver, 90, who accidentally killed couple in hospital crash
Texas church shooting was ‘domestic incident’ and gunman’s mother-in-law was in the congregation, officials say
Axe attacker jailed for ‘horrific, violent’ assault on neighbour
Child sex trafficker assaulted in prison after inmates ‘found out what she was in for’

Authorities have apparently begun arresting anyone from Kilju county who attempts to expose the nuclear tests.

Once detained, defectors claim these people are then sent to prison camps.

North Korea is ramping up its nuclear missile programme, with American officials believing the country will soon have the capability to reach the shores of the US.

Earlier today, President Donald Trump signalled a willingness to negotiate with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programme, urging Pyongyang to “come to the table” and “make a deal”.

In a notable shift from his aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea, Mr Trump took a more optimistic tone in South Korea on Tuesday, suggesting “ultimately, it’ll all work out”.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes