Jamboree

1,000 buses evacuate scouts from disaster-hit World Jamboree in South Korea

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More than 1,000 buses have started transporting scouts at a global event in South Korea away from a campsite, due to an impending tropical storm.

The buses leaving the disaster-devastated jamboree were being escorted by helicopters and police vehicles.

Days after hundreds of campers became ill in 35C (95F) temps, the storm threat has emerged.

In order to help manage the effects of the gathering, South Korea’s president has shorted his vacation.

Attended by more than 40,000 young people from 155 countries, the World Scout Jamboree in Saemangeum has been marred by illness and criticism of its organisation and facilities from the start.

“This is the first time in more than 100 years of World Scout Jamborees that we have had to face such compounded challenges,” Ahmad Alhendawi of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, said in a statement.

The massive event had been “very unlucky with the unprecedented heatwave” and the incoming storm, he said.

The bus convoy began moving the scouts from Saemangeum at 09:00 local time (01:00 BST) on Tuesday to inland locations, including Seoul and its surrounding province of Gyeonggi.

Scout groups from the UK, Singapore and the US had left the event early – with the British group citing poor sanitation and food quality among their reasons for leaving.

Most of the remaining scouts will be ferried from the camp to 128 accommodation sites across eight provinces and cities around Seoul, interior minister Lee Sang-min on Tuesday morning.

He said the government would ensure participants could be “safe and comfortable” at their new lodgings, which include university halls and hotels.

He vowed the Jamboree would continue and said he hoped the scouts could “finish their schedules with a happy heart”.

In an effort to mitigate the national embarrassment surrounding the event, a South Korean lawmaker has appealed to the military to give three members of the seven-strong super K-pop group BTS leave from their mandatory military service so as to entertain the stranded scouts.

The now-empty schedules of these “precious guests” needed filling with “the power of Korean culture,” Sung Il-jong wrote on his Facebook page.

A closing ceremony will now be held on Saturday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, followed by the K-pop concert, South Korea’s culture ministry said on Tuesday.

The jamboree’s organisers had insisted the event would continue despite the weather forecast, but on Monday they confirmed the scouts would be evacuated and the campsite closed due to the approaching typhoon.

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