S.Korean Prez visits wildfire-hit coastal area

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday met residents in the eastern coastal area that has been ravaged by a massive wildfire and vowed swift government support for the victims, his office said.

He met some of the displaced people at a makeshift shelter in Uljin, 330 km southeast of Seoul, as authorities mobilised 44 helicopters and 4,000 personnel to contain the blaze that began on Friday morning, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Among some 7,400 people who evacuated due to the fire, 1,000 are staying in temporary shelters set up at public facilities and schools in the area, officials said.

The fire burned an estimated 14,222 hectares of woodland, more than twice the size of New York’s Manhattan, in Uljin and its neighbouring city of Samcheok as of Sunday morning, driven by strong winds and dry weather, according to forest and firefighting authorities.

The government plans to designate the affected areas as a special disaster zone, according to officials.

“The fastest way for the government to support the residents is to declare a special disaster zone and taking part in recovery efforts,” Moon told the victims.

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