Criticism over Government Response to Forest Fires

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Criticism over Government Response to Forest Fires

A raging forest fire that threatened Tonghae City on the morning on April 12, came within 500m of a naval powder magazine. If the powder magazine had exploded, a catastrophe would surely have occured to this quiet city of 100,000.

The city of Tonghae issued an emergency decree instructing residents to take shelter. However, after the press reported the news, the central government is rumored to have called Tonghae requesting that Tonghae City cancel the emergency decree. Responding to the request Tonghae City made an excuse that the sheltering alert can not be delivered in the midst of a forest fire. The vice-mayor made an even more implausible excuse that the municipality did not make a sheltering alert, but just "instructed" citizens to take shelter. The vice-mayor went so far as to bring examples of the relevant regulations and laws to the press conference with him.

I can only believe that the withdrawal of the emergency decree is related to the general election, because people will consider that the government did not cope properly with the disaster and vote for opposition parties if a serious "alert" is delivered.

Since the local autonomy governance system began, it has become difficult to reprimand those elected governors. Therefore, the local governments do not pay attention to the prevention of natural disasters.

The inefficient and disorganized local government response stands in stark contrast to the efforts of the firemen, soldiers, and officials, who have tried their best in order to extinguish fires and protect residents, working under the notice board written as "Sheltering Alert, at 12:30".

by Koh Hyun-kon

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