South Korea Declares ‘State of National Disaster’ After Wildfire Burns Down Cities
By Ryan General
April 8, 2019
Terrifying clips of towering flames and dark clouds of smoke engulfing large residential areas in South Korea have emerged on local news and social media over the weekend.
The apocalyptic images, which resemble scenes from a disaster film, came from a blaze that reportedly started in the town of Goseong late Thursday and immediately spread to multiple towns and cities due to strong winds.
The area that ignited the inferno is far northeast of the country and just about 28 miles from the border with North Korea. Within hours, the flame reached neighboring Sokcho, Gangneung, and Donghae cities.
In a bid to bring it under control, the South Korean government declared a rare “state of national disaster” on Friday (Apr 5) with different agencies responding to the affected areas.
The declaration immediately prohibits entry to dangerous zones and entitled residents of the affected areas to special assistance such as goods and equipment.
Yonhap News (via Channel News Asia) reports that the National Fire Agency immediately deployed 900 fire engines and tens of thousands of personnel while the military also provided 32 helicopters, 16,500 soldiers, and additional fire engines of its own.
According to government data, the rescue efforts resulted in successfully evacuating almost 4,200 people.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has met with residents who were forced to leave their homes in the towns most affected by the disaster.
Wearing yellow jackets that symbolize the state of national emergency, President Moon also visited temporary evacuation sites in Gangwon, Goseong, and Jangcheon village.
Provincial governor Choi Moon-soon told local media platforms that while the main fire has been brought under control, there were other areas which were still burning.
The tragic incident destroyed about 400 homes and 500 hectares of land, leaving 35 individuals injured and at least one person dead.
Featured image via YouTube/CNA
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