Gov’t seeks quick recovery from worst wildfire

Apr 08, 2019, 08:25 am

print page small font big font

facebook share

tweet share

New Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young presides over an anti-disaster meeting in Seoul on Sunday./ Source: The Ministry of Interior and Safety

AsiaToday reporter Kim In-hee 

The recent fire that engulfed South Korea’s eastern areas has caused significant property damage. As of 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, a total of 1,886 homes and facilities have been confirmed to have been burned. The blaze had destroyed 401 houses, 925 livestock facilities, 68 public facilities, and 66 other facilities, including 9 buildings of vinyl houses, 46 buildings of auto camping resorts, 1 building in Donghae rest stop, and 241 farming machinery.

Around 530 hectares of forest are estimated to have been devastated by the fire. The fire claimed 250 hectares in Goseong and Sokcho, 250 hectares in Gangneung and Donghae, and 30 hectares in Inje. A total of 722 people have been forced to leave their homes. There are currently 21 temporary shelters. 490 people are staying at shelters in Goseong, 80 in Sokcho, and 129 in Gangneung.

The government is taking measures swiftly to deal with the historic damage. It has designated the blaze-hit areas as a special disaster zone to spend state money for damage restoration while the related ministries are working together to set up measures to stabilize residents' livelihoods in the affected areas.

President Moon Jae-in has declared a special disaster zone for the areas hit by the massive forest fire after acknowledging the need of special measures at the national level for effective recovery and restoration. It is the third declaration of special disaster zone following the fire along the eastern coast of Korea in April 2000 and a massive wildfire in Yangyang in April 2005. The latest designation covers a total of five cities and counties in Gangwon Province. The move will expedite the government’s support to the affected areas and their residents. The sufferers of the special disaster zone are entitled to financial support and indirect support benefits, including tax and public utility fee reduction. 

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety supported 4 billion won in special subsidies for containing the fires and cleaning up debris, along with 250 million won in disaster relief funds for temporary accommodation and daily necessities for evacuees. New Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young visited the province on his first day as the new minister on Saturday while delaying his inauguration ceremony. On Sunday morning, Chin presided over an anti-disaster meeting in Seoul with officials from the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the National Fire Agency, the Korea Forest Service, and the Korea Meteorological Administration, as well as Gangwon Vice-Governor, Sokcho Deputy Mayor, and others in attendance. 

At the meeting, Chin instructed local governments to quickly identify types of housing support desired by the sufferers and ordered related ministries to investigate public facilities near the affected areas that are available for the victims. In addition, he urged officials to reduce administrative procedures as much as possible and come up with practical support measures for victims in order to provide the necessary support for victims in a speedy manner.

The health ministry made sure to install mobile pharmacies and provide medical devices in cooperation with health centers, hospitals and pharmacists’ associations to ensure elderly victims receive medical benefits properly. The agriculture ministry and related organizations identified demands for agricultural machinery, fertilizers, and rice seeds so they can be provided immediately. 

#wildfire #Gangwon Province #Goseong #fire #special disaster zone 
Copyright by Asiatoday