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One dead in South Korea blaze


An enormous fire erupted Thursday in the South Korean border town of Goseong, leaving at least one dead, destroying dozens of homes and forcing more than 3,000 people to evacuate, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Strong winds fanned the flames in the town, located in mountainous northeastern Gangwon province near the frontier with North Korea, the report said, citing fire officials.

The National Fire Agency mobilised about 2,700 emergency personnel, with firefighters arriving from across the nation, Yonhap said, but the winds were complicating efforts to control the blaze.

Authorities issued the highest-level alert — level three — and President Moon Jae-in has told officials to take all measures necessary to battle the inferno.

Police found the body of a man on a road, apparently dead as a result of the fire, Yonhap said. Officials corrected a report that an elderly woman died in the blaze.

Eleven others were injured, but that toll was expected to rise Friday.

Around 120 houses were destroyed, the report said.

Local officials said the fire broke out alongside a road in Goseong, which is located about 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of the capital Seoul, in the evening hours.

It quickly spread to a nearby mountainside, forcing the evacuations.

“As the wind is especially strong, we are focusing more on reducing casualties than extinguishing the fire,” Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon was quoted as saying.

About 100 fire trucks were on the scene overnight, with another 100 due to arrive, a fire agency official told Yonhap.

About 30 helicopters were to be sent up at daybreak for rescue and firefighting missions.

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