Firefighters and rescue employees clear up the positioning of a hearth at Guryong village in Seoul, South Korea, January 20, 2023.

Ahn Younger-joon/AP

Seoul, South Korea — A fireplace destroyed about 60 makeshift houses in a densely packed neighborhood surrounded by among the wealthiest streets of South Korea’s ultramodern capital Friday. Firefighters extinguished the flames in Seoul’s Guryong village inside about 5 hours, and no accidents or deaths had been reported.
Shin Yong-ho, an official on the fireplace division of Seoul’s Gangnam district, stated rescue employees had searched areas affected by the fireplace however all residents had been believed to have safely evacuated.
Greater than 800 firefighters, cops and public employees fought the flames and dealt with evacuations after the fireplace started round 6:30 a.m.
Photographs confirmed firefighters preventing the flames below thick, white smoke protecting the village as helicopters sprayed water from above. Later, orange-suited rescuers searched via the charred panorama the place grey tendrils of smoke had been nonetheless rising. The capital’s skyscrapers gleamed a brief distance away.

South Korea Fire
Firefighters and rescue employees clear up the positioning of a hearth at Guryong village in Seoul, South Korea, January 20, 2023.

Ahn Younger-joon/AP

“How might this occur on the Lunar New 12 months holidays?” 66-year-old village resident Kim Sung-han informed The Related Press, referring to one of many nation’s largest holidays that begins this weekend and continues via Tuesday.
“I needed to run out of residence solely in these garments,” with out having the ability to carry out the rest, Kim stated. “I could not go to work… when it is already so arduous to reside.”
Lee Woon-cheol, one of many group leaders on the village, stated residents had been capable of swiftly alert others to the fireplace and that firefighters went door-to-door looking for folks and serving to them evacuate.
“That is the place a number of accidents occur due to electrical quick circuits,” Lee informed the YTN information channel. The reason for the fireplace hasn’t been decided.
Kim Ah-reum, an official on the Gangnam district workplace, stated round 500 residents evacuated to close by amenities together with a faculty health club. Officers say most of them had been anticipated to return residence however not less than 45 folks whose homes had been destroyed or severely broken can be briefly staying at a lodge. A few of the 60 houses that burned down had been unoccupied.
The information of the fireplace alarmed South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who whereas visiting Switzerland for the Davos conferences instructed officers to mobilize all accessible assets to reduce harm and casualties, his spokesperson Kim Eun-hye stated.
South Korea continues to be dealing with its worst catastrophe in virtually a decade, after practically 160 folks died in a crowd surge at a Seoul nightlife district in October. Consultants blame that lethal crush on poor planning by police and administrative officers, who did not make use of fundamental crowd management measures regardless of anticipating big gatherings of Halloween revelers.

The Slum Next Door to Gangnam Exposes South Koreas Wealth Gap
A lady walks on a road in Guryong village close to the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, November 24, 2020. Simply steps away from Seoul’s glitzy Gangnam district, residents who scavenge bottles for $10 a day teamed up with landowners demanding greater than $1 billion for the final remaining slum within the South Korean capital.

Jean Chung/Bloomberg/Getty

Guryong village, an unlawful encampment situated simply throughout an enormous freeway from a few of Seoul’s costliest actual property, marked by towering high-rise residences and lavish purchasing districts, has lengthy been an emblem of South Korea’s stark revenue inequalities.

The hillside village has usually been broken by fireplace over time, a vulnerability that has been linked to its tightly packed houses constructed with supplies that simply burn. Eleven homes had been destroyed by a hearth in March, and floods pressured round 100 folks to evacuate final August.

The village, which has round 670 houses although not all are occupied, was fashioned within the Eighties as a settlement for individuals who had been evicted from their authentic neighborhoods below town’s large home clearings and redevelopment tasks.
A whole lot of 1000’s of individuals had been faraway from their houses in slums and low-income settlements throughout these years, a course of the nation’s then-military leaders noticed as essential in beautifying town for international guests forward of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Video games.
Seoul’s metropolis authorities first introduced plans to redevelop the world in 2011 however the efforts have stalled over disagreements between metropolis officers and residents over land compensation and different points.

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