Approaching typhoon spurs South Korea to evacuate World Scout Jamboree

A complete evacuation of the campsite for the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea, was announced by government officials on Monday due to the approach of Typhoon Khanun. Photo by Yonhap
A complete evacuation of the campsite for the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea, was announced by government officials on Monday due to the approach of Typhoon Khanun. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands of scouts will be evacuated from the campsite of the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea, officials announced Monday, as a typhoon bears down on an event plagued by a scorching heatwave that caused the early withdrawal of several contingents.

Kim Sung-Ho, South Korea's Vice Minister for Disaster and Safety Management, said at a press briefing that about 36,000 scouts and volunteers will start evacuating at 10 a.m. Tuesday.


Some 1,000 buses will be mobilized to relocate participants from the Samangeum campsite in the southwest of the country to the Seoul metropolitan area. The government is working with local municipalities and educational facilities to finalize accommodations, Kim said.

Typhoon Khanun is forecast to make landfall in South Korea on Thursday morning, bringing heavy rains and winds that could reach more than 90 mph, the Korea Meteorological Administration said. The typhoon killed at least two, injured dozens and caused widespread power outages in southwestern Japan last week.


The jamboree kicked off Aug. 1 with an attendance of more than 43,000 scouts and volunteers from 158 countries.

Despite the site evacuation, the event will continue through its scheduled finale on Saturday, officials said.

"The government will make full preparations so that the participants can stay and the jamboree program can continue for the remaining five days and four nights," Kim said.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement announced the decision to evacuate in a statement earlier Monday, which it said came after consultation with the South Korean government.

"We urgently call on the government to expedite the plan for departure and provide all necessary resources and support for participants during their stay and until they return to their home countries," the statement said.

The evacuation comes after scorching temperatures left hundreds suffering from heat-related illnesses over the first days of the event.

The jamboree campsite, on a reclaimed tidal flat, has no trees and offers very little natural shade. Accounts of a hospital bed shortage, waterlogged conditions due to previous heavy rains, swarms of mosquitoes and spoiled food have added to the widespread criticism organizers are facing.

U.S. and British contingents left the campground over the weekend due to the extreme weather and conditions at the site, while Australian scouts had announced their plans to leave earlier on Monday before the evacuation decision was made.


A local South Korean contingent also pulled out over the weekend after accusing organizers of mishandling allegations of a sex offense.

South Korea has been experiencing its hottest summer in recent memory, with the government raising its heatwave warning level to "serious" for the first time in four years after temperatures topped 100 degrees in parts of the country last week.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement asked organizers on Saturday to end the event early, but South Korean officials conducted inspections over the weekend and decided that conditions had improved sufficiently to keep things going.

Among the events being rescheduled is a K-pop concert, which was postponed on Sunday due to heat concerns. It will be held on Friday, officials said, with a venue still to be determined.

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