More than 2,000 used LPG gas tanks exploded at a tank waste treatment plant in the city of Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang Province, Thursday morning.
The flames from the explosion flew nearly 400 meters, igniting the adjacent mountains in flames.
The affected area includes a small village of nine families. There were no casualties, though farmers said the some 200 village cattle were noticeably shaken and the ancestral tombs in the mountains were destroyed.
Helicopters from Korea Forest Service and firetrucks continued to spray water on the smoldering scene until 2 p.m., three hours after the blast.
Villager Gwon Won-taek, 71, told a local wire service that he had been heading toward his plum farm just next to the burnt down plant at around 10:40 a.m. when he suddenly heard an ear-splitting blast and saw “large flames flying out in every direction.”
Another villager Jeon Byeong-soo, 78, said his whole body shook with shock when he heard the explosion from his home.
The residents of the village in Duryu-ri, Angang-eup, had been in conflict with the plant since it was established over 10 years ago.
Villager Lee Jong-il, 61, told the wire service that he had raised numerous complaints against the Gyeongju city government for allowing a plant dealing with dangerous combustibles to operate immediately next to where the villagers raised livestock.
“What we had been worried about has happened,” said Lee, visibly upset.
The village plans to press for the relocation of the facility.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)