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Moon urges all-out efforts to contain damage from Goseong wildfire, ensure public safety

President Moon Jae-in has urged government officials to spare no effort to contain the damage from the massive wildfire that engulfed Goseong, Gangwon Province, and surrounding areas Thursday night and to ensure public safety.

“I urge the Government to make every effort with all available resources to put out the wildfire in Goseong county, Gangwon Province, as soon as possible. Please make sure that there are no accident in the process of fighting the fire,” said Moon in an official statement via his Twitter account.

President Moon Jae-in holds emergency meeting at 00:20 a.m. on Friday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in holds emergency meeting at 00:20 a.m. on Friday. (Yonhap)

“In the regions where wildfire is likely to spread, proactive and preemptive measures led by local authorities, like the evacuation of residents in advance, may be necessary to prevent casualties. We also need to ensure that ships anchored at the ports near the affected areas can be immediately evacuated in case of emergency. In addition, please come up with measures, such as temporary closure of schools, to protect the children in the affected regions.”

The government declared a state of emergency on Friday at 9 a.m., before Moon’s second visit to the state emergency control center Friday morning.

One person died, 11 more were injured, and an estimated 250 hectares of forest and 125 homes were lost in the fire. Affected areas include Goseong, Sokcho, Gangneung, Donghae and Inje -- cities on South Korea’s east coast.

The authorities estimate that nearly 15,900 personnel, including firefighters and soldiers, are involved in tackling the fire, and 346 firefighting vehicles including helicopters have been deployed.

It is speculated that the fire may have started with a power transformer across from a gas station in Goseong, at around 7:17 p.m. on Thursday. It was initially categorized as a level-one outbreak, but this was later corrected to level three as the fire spread through dry air on strong gusts traveling 30 meters per second.

President Moon Jae-in convened the first emergency gathering for leaders of relevant government agencies on Friday at 12:20 a.m.

As of 11 a.m., the main fire in the Goseong forest was put out while in nearby Inje and Gangneung, work to extinguish the fires was 70 percent and 40 percent complete, respectively, according to the fire agency.

By Korea Herald (