Following this week’s earthquake the Korean government has declared Gyeongju city in Gyeongsangbukdo Province as a special disaster zone. It’s hoped that the designation will accelerate efforts to restore and normalize affected areas.
Restoration efforts are ging slowly in Gyeongju as aftershocks continue following powerful tremors. Some 4,000 homes have been destroyed with 90 cases of damage inflicted on cultural relics including the Cheomseongdae astronomical observatory. According to an interim tally, the scope of the quake damage has surpassed the 6.8-million-dollar barometer, allowing the government to declare Gyeongju as a special disaster zone. It's the first time in the nation's history to declare an area a special disaster zone due to an earthquake. Gyeongju will now receive state subsidies for up to a certain amount of its restoration expenses. Residents whose homes are completely destroyed in the earthquake will be given over 8,000 dollars in support while those who suffered partial destruction will receive half this amount of around 4,000 dollars. Also, those whose homes are slightly damaged will also get 900 dollars in financial support. Some 320 medics and psychotherapists will also be dispatched to the area to help with the physical and mental treatment of victims.
[Soundbite] Kim Hee-gyeom(Ministry of Public Safety & Security) : "We will work to have the residents return to normal life as soon as possible and also use this opportunity to drastically improve the government's quake response capabilities."
The government also said that people who suffered quake damages in areas other than Gyeongju can also receive aid for restoration costs and borrow loans at a low interest of two percent.