South Korea declared a 'rare national disaster' after an apocalyptic-like giant forest fire swept through localities. About 900 fire engines and thousands of fire personnel were deployed to get the situation under control.
Television news channels showed walls of flame lighting up the night sky, buildings licked by the flames and clouds of smoke billowing across hillsides during the day. Sources say the fire broke out late Thursday alongside a road in Goseong, in the far northeast of the country, about 45 km from the border with North Korea.
Fanned by strong winds, the fire quickly spread through the mountainous area, razing 400 homes to the ground and 500 hectares of land. About 4,000 people were evacuated and 11 injured. The military sent 32 helicopters with fire engines and 16,500 soldiers for help.
Choi Moon, the provincial governor said the main fire has been brought under control, but others are still burning. He said the central government declared a state of national disaster, entitling affected areas to special assistance including goods and equipment, and banning entry to dangerous zones.
In 2007, Seoul made a similar declaration after a crude oil carrier leaked thousands of tonnes of oil into the sea off the west coast.