Military offers chopper fuel to help contain east coast wildfires

SEOUL-- South Korea's military on Monday provided aviation fuel from its oil reserves and mobilized 2,390 troops and 26 choppers to help contain wildfires in eastern coastal areas, the defense ministry said.

The military offered enough fuel for the single-day operation of 10 helicopters, as firefighting authorities are struggling to put out the blaze that began Friday in Uljin, 330 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and spread to nearby areas.

The move came a day after Defense Minister Suh Wook called for "all-out" efforts to help extinguish the fires during a special meeting of top commanders from the Army, Navy, Air Forces and Marine Corps.

The cumulative numbers of troops the Army, the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force have mobilized in support of the firefighting efforts have come to 4,128, 1,992, 931 and 174, respectively, the ministry said.

The wildfires had burned an estimated 16,755 hectares of woodland, the size of 23,466 soccer fields, in Uljin and neighboring coastal areas as of 6 a.m. Monday, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) said that those subject to conscription can delay starting their mandatory service by up to two months if they live in Uljin or Samcheok, which have been designated as special disaster zones.

Those whose family members have suffered damage from wildfires can also apply for a delay, the MMA said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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