SEOUL — President Kim Dae Jung has declared a disaster area in parts of the east coast where forest fires have killed two people and destroyed more than 600 buildings, officials said today.
They said the government will provide financial support, including loans and tax benefits, to more than 840 people who have been left homeless.
Rugged mountain terrain and heavy fog had hampered efforts to put out the fires, but since late Friday they have been under control, officials said.
"Once the heavy fog clears up, we plan to launch helicopters to put out small flames left on the hills," said Oh Ki Pyo, an official at the anti-calamity department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
"We expect to put the fire out completely by later today," he said.
Helicopters dumped water, and thousands of firefighters tried to contain the blazes for the past week on hills in nearby Samchok, about 140 miles east of Seoul.
Oh said the area would be closely watched for the next few days. About 25,000 acres of forest have been destroyed, more than 840 people are homeless and about 1,360 head of livestock have been killed.