S Korea declares national disaster after massive blaze engulfs 5 cities

Seoul: South Korea, late on Thursday, declared a national emergency after a massive blaze engulfed five cities along its northeastern coast, leaving one dead and 11 injured.

The blaze started on Thursday evening in the northeast border town of Goseong, according to fire officials.

Strong winds led to the fire spreading to nearby mountainous regions in the Gangwon province, including the cities of Sokcho, Donghae and Gangneung and Inje county, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Around 4,000 residents have been evacuated as the affected area is spread over an area of 250 hectares. According to an estimate, over 120 houses have been destroyed by the fire even as official confirmation on the figures remains awaited.

The casualty figure is feared to rise, Yonhap reported.

According to officials, 872 fire tenders from across the country were pressed into service to tackle the blaze. Nearly 10,000 personnel, including 3,250 firefighters have been mobilised.

The fire agency issued the highest level alert on Thursday night, which is only issued when an accident affects the entire nation.

Rescue and mitigation efforts are still underway. Further details are awaited.