10/14/2019, 16.13
KOREA
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Snipers to cull swine flu-infected pigs

Military and civilian hunters will be sent to Paju, Hwacheon, Inje, Yanggu, and Goseong. So far, South Korea has culled 154,548 pigs at 94 farms. The outbreak is out of control in North Korea, according to South Korean intelligence. As it spreads the virus could jeopardise North Korea’s already precarious food security.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea plans to deploy military snipers and civilian hunters to its northern border tomorrow to eliminate pigs and wild boars infected with African swine fever (ASF).

The South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced yesterday that it will use thermal vision drones to detect sick animals near the civilian control line, the buffer zone south of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas.

The goal is to exterminate feral pigs in places like Incheon, Seoul, Goseong and the Bukhan River. Military and civilian sharpshooters will also be sent to Paju, Hwacheon, Inje, Yanggu, and Goseong. Their number will be decided today.

So far, South Korea has deployed seven helicopters to disinfect parts of the DMZ, which have seen more than a dozen outbreaks. A total of 154,548 pigs have been culled at 94 farms.

By official accounts, the virus wreaking havoc across Eastern Asia has virtually skipped over North Korea, killing only 22 pigs in May on a cooperative farm about 260 kilometres north of Pyongyang, near the border with China, North Korea’s agriculture ministry said on 30 May.

However, since then there have been no official updates. Meanwhile, five dead wild boars with ASF were found in border areas this month. This suggests that they can freely roam the sector and that the outbreak is spreading from North Korea, where unofficial reports indicate that the disease is out of control.

The outbreak began on Chinese farms in August 2018, spreading to neighbouring countries, including Mongolia and Vietnam. If it gets worse, it could jeopardise North Korea’s already precarious food security.

According to observers, African swine fever will worsen hunger and malnutrition in a country where pork accounts for about 80 per cent of local protein consumption.  With sanctions in place, it will be difficult for North Korean authorities to find an alternative source of protein.

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