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Seoul, April 11 – A wind-swept wildfire ripped through the South Korean coastal city of Gangneung on Tuesday, destroying about 100 homes and forcing hundreds of residents and tourists to evacuate.
The wildfire broke out on a hill in Gangneung’s Nangok-dong district at around 8.30 a.m. amid the combination of high wind and dry weather warnings issued by the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) for the region earlier, reports Yonhap News Agency.
From early Tuesday, typhoon-class strong winds with an instantaneous maximum speed reaching 30 metres per second blew over Gangneung, 168 km east of Seoul, and other east coast areas of Gangwon province.
The fire was rapidly spreading to the district’s residential areas due to gusty winds, burning about 100 houses so far, according to the city’s fire officials.
No casualties have been reported yet.
The city government sent a disaster warning message to the fire-stricken district’s residents, asking them to evacuate to community service centres or to the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Some tourists staying in nearby accommodations were also evacuating to safe places in case there is an emergency.
The fire authorities raised their response posture to the highest level and mobilised more than 300 firefighters, six helicopters and 200 fire trucks, though their firefighting efforts were hampered by strong winds.