President Moon Jae-in designated eastern areas engulfed by a recent blaze as a special disaster zone Saturday, a move that will expedite the government’s support to the affected areas and their residents.
Five cities and counties in Gangwon Province — the counties of Goseong, Inje and Sokcho, as well as Gangneung and Donghae cities — will be subject to the designation, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
|President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)|
The move will allow the government to spend state money on stabilizing residents’ livelihoods in the affected areas and support damage recovery.
The move came as the government declared a state of national disaster Friday over the blaze in the border town of Goseong and its neighboring cities.
“Pan-government support will be provided to the affected areas.
The government will focus on damage recovery and restoration work with active support,” Cheong Wa Dae vice spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon proposed to Moon the idea of declaring a special disaster zone.
It marked the sixth such declaration under the Moon government, including the latest in October 2018 over typhoon damage in southern provinces.
The fire started in the mountainous county of Goseong, about 160 kilometers northeast of Seoul, on Thursday night and fast spread into the neighboring Sokcho, Gangneung and Donghae cities and within hours.
The blaze left one man dead and injured 11 others. Ten of them returned home later after treatment, leaving one injured.
Nearly 4,000 residents were evacuated into make-shift shelters, of whom some 3,700 people returned home later, the government said.
Prime Minister Lee said the operation that mobilized the largest number of firefighters and equipment ever helped contain the devastating blaze in one day.
“Considering the size of the wildfire and its force, the blaze was swiftly contained, but it left massive damage and scars,” Lee said at a meeting with relevant ministers over the blaze. (Yonhap)