Disturbing reports have emerged from North Korea stating that the country's nuclear program has had a crippling effect on nationals who live near a major testing site.
The Research Association of Vision of North Korea spoke with 21 defectors from Kilju, a town near the Punngye-ri nuclear test site where six tests have been conducted, according to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
The group painted an extremely bleak picture of the current state of the region, claiming that about 80 percent of trees planted in the city die and that all of their underground wells have run dry due to nuclear activity.
"I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there," one defector told the paper.
Another defector who fled the country in 2010 said that North Korean authorities provided no warning before the nuclear tests and no protection afterward
"During the first nuclear test (October of 2006) and second one (May of 2009), only family members of soldiers were evacuated to underground shafts," the defector recalled. "Ordinary people were completely unaware of the tests."
"I personally saw corpses floating down the river with their limbs severed," one added.
SEE: Satellite photos of Punngye- ri:
During the bombshell interview, the defectors also alleged that people who live near the site have been banned from hospitals in the capital, Pyongyang.
"Kilju locals who made appointments in a large hospital in Pyongyang were not allowed to enter the capital after the sixth nuclear test," one defector admitted.
The group also claimed that anyone caught boarding trains with samples of soil, water or leaves were arrested and sent to prison camps, in an effort to keep the state of Kilju under wraps.
- This article was initially published on AOL.com: Report: 'Deformed babies' born near North Korea's nuclear 'wasteland'