A Asia

South Korea declares national emergency over deadly wildfires

The South Korean peninsula has declared a national emergency as one of the largest wildfires on record rampages the country.

More than 4,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and at least one person has died.

From across the peninsula, thousands of South Korean troops have been deployed to support firefighters extinguish the flames in North-eastern regions close to the border with North Korea.

While the major part of the fire has been brought under control, according to officials, many parts are still burning.

Hundreds of buildings have burnt down due to the fire.

The fire broke out on late Thursday and it is alleged that it originated from a transformer’s spark close to Goseong in Gangwon Province, north-east of Seoul.

According to officials, the fire spread quickly through the mountain area which hosted 2018’s Winter Olympics and to the cities of Sokcho and Gangneung due to strong winds.

More than 800 fire engines, around 16,500 soldiers, 32 military helicopters and 26 military fire trucks from across South Korea have been deployed to tackle the blaze according to the country’s ministry of defence.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting to call for officials to deploy all available resources.

In a radio interview with YTN, the provincial governor Choi Moon-soon said: "Fortunately, the main fire has been brought under control…", but added that others such as about 50% of the fire in the Gangneung region have been contained. The fire in the Sokcho region has been completely extinguished, the government said.

In 2007, South Korea was hit by a disaster of a similar scale when a crude oil carrier leaked thousands of tonnes of oil into the sea off the west coast.

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