A giant forest fire swept across swathes of South Korea Friday, as authorities declared a rare national disaster, deploying 900 fire engines and tens of thousands of personnel to bring it under control. Apocalyptic images on television and social media showed walls of flame lighting up the night, buildings engulfed in flames, and clouds of smoke billowing across hillsides during the day.

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Apocalyptic fire in South Korea in April 2019. Picture via Twitter

The central government declared a state of national disaster, entitling affected areas to special assistance including goods and equipment, and banning entry to dangerous zones.

The last time Seoul made such a declaration was in 2007 when a crude oil carrier leaked thousands of tonnes of oil into the sea off the west coast.

President Moon Jae-in told officials to take all measures necessary to battle the inferno, and to liaise with North Korean authorities if the fire approaches the border, the presidential office said.

Fanned by strong winds it quickly spread through the mountainous area, incinerating 400 homes and 500 hectares of land, according to the government.

Nearly 4,200 people were evacuated and one person died, authorities said, while 35 were injured.

Another man-made fire?

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