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North Korea: Raging fires seen in satellite images, smoke hundreds of miles long

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North Korea: Raging fires are burning in the communist North. Photos taken from satellites passing over North Korea last week show dozens of powerful blazes creating vast clouds of smoke rising from the east and southeast parts of the enigmatic nation. Plumes of white smoke, hundreds of miles long in length, can be seen coming from the nation and drifting out over the Sea of Japan.

The cause of the fires? No one is sure, reports ABC News on May 2, though the fires seem to be centered over more rural areas of the nation, suggesting they are wildfires or farmers fields. The images were taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 25. Areas that are actively burning, as determined by the satellite's spectroradiometer, are marked in red.

“Many fires appear in farming areas along rivers. While North Korea’s best agricultural land is located on the coastal plain in the western part of the country, many people farm marginal land along rivers in the mountainous areas,” NASA's website says. “They use fire to clear debris from last year’s crop and to help fertilize the soil for the coming season. However, some of the fires were burning in heavily forested areas, suggesting that they might be wildfires.”

Kim Jong-un’s nation last month marked the first anniversary of its own space agency by revealing a new name and logo. On April 1, North Korea revealed the name and emblem for their aerospace organization: the National Aerospace Development Administration, or NADA. The logo is also very similar to its U.S. NASA counterpart.

Of course,”nada” in Spanish means nothing, so the name would appear to accurately sum up North Korea’s ability to explore the cosmos. After five tries, the nation finally was able to get its own satellite into space in 2012, but it came crashing into the atmosphere shortly after reaching orbit. The fledgling space program with the unfortunate acronym is just another cause for North Korea to puff out its chest, though they have quite the trouble even getting their rockets off the ground.

The symbol “reflects the will of the space scientists of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) to glorify Kim Il Sung's and Kim Jong Il's Korea as a space power,” the North Koren press release states, according to Fox News. “The globe represents the DPRK's idea for peaceful development of the space and the rings show the DPRK's will to launch satellite into all orbits.”

Smoke pouring out of the North comes weeks after state media in North Korea called the United States a “living hell” in their retort to a United Nations report that concluded that the country was committing human rights violations “without any parallel in the contemporary world.” On April 30, the official Korean Central News Agency spit out an article titled “News Analysis on Poor Human Rights Records in U.S.” The report presented unverified and outright erroneous figures on U.S. racial discrimination, unemployment, housing, poverty and crime. “The U.S. is the world's worst human right abuser and tundra of a human being's rights to existence,” the essay concludes.

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