COVID-19 curbs force Russian diplomats return from North Korea on rail trolley

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A group of Russian diplomats and their family members returned to Russia from North Korea on a hand-pushed rail trolley on Thursday because of COVID-19 restrictions in the country, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a Facebook post.

“Since the borders have been closed for over a year and passenger traffic has been halted,” staff members of the Russian embassy in North Korea and their family members embarked on “a long and difficult journey to get home,” the ministry said.

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The group of eight people took a 32-hour train ride, followed by two hours on a bus. They then boarded a rail trolley and pushed themselves for about a kilometer (half a mile) across the border into Russia.
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Photos posted by the ministry showed embassy staff with their children and suitcases on a trolley. A video showed two people pushing the trolley across a railway bridge.

The Interfax news agency reported on Friday morning that the group later took a flight to Moscow from the far-eastern city of Vladivostok.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free, but has sealed its borders and halted passenger traffic with other countries. Outside experts are highly skeptical of the North’s zero-virus case claim.

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