Seoul, Mar 7 (EFE).- South Korea Monday deployed thousands of soldiers and military aircraft to fight a massive forest fire along the country’s east coast that has damaged more than 500 buildings and caused the evacuation of over 7,300 people.
The defense ministry said it deployed 2,390 troops and 26 aircraft and would provide fuel from its reserves to help contain the flames.
“The focus is to contain the main fires but it is difficult to say all the blazes can be extinguished during the day,” Choi Byeong-am, head of the Korea Forest Service, told reporters.
“As the east wind will blow from Tuesday afternoon, the main fires have to be put under control before then,” he added.
The fire broke out Friday on a road near a mountain in Uljin and had burned some 16,755 hectares of forest land in the coastal county – located about 330 km southeast of Seoul – and neighboring areas until early Monday, authorities said.
The fire has been spreading due to strong winds and a dry environment and has destroyed at least 343 homes and 169 other buildings in the affected areas, with no casualties reported so far, local news agency Yonhap said.
More than 7,300 people were evacuated by Sunday night.
Some 18,000 firefighting personnel, 95 helicopters, and 781 vehicles were deployed to fight the fire.
The central government has designated the areas devastated by the fire as a special disaster zone and has promised to provide aid to those affected as soon as possible. EFE