Scouts from the United States and the United Kingdom are leaving the site of an international scouting jamboree in South Korea after hundreds of participants fell ill due to extreme heat.
The US scouts will move to a US army base about 175km (109 miles) from the site of the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea’s southwest after taking part in the jamboree programme on Saturday, the Reuters news agency reported, citing an email to parents.
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Scout leaders made the decision to leave the campsite in Buan, North Jeolla Province due to “ongoing extreme weather and resulting conditions at the jamboree site”, according to the email.
The move comes after the UK Scout Association on Friday announced it would pull more than 4,000 scouts from the campsite and move them into hotels over the weekend due to soaring temperatures.
The exit of the US and UK contingents deals a blow to the South Korean organisers and government’s efforts to salvage the event, which has also been plagued by complaints about food quality, sanitation and insects.
President Yoon Suk Yeol on Friday directed authorities to provide an “unlimited supply” of air-conditioned buses and refrigerator trucks to the site, after his administration earlier sent dozens of military physicians and nurses.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement has asked the South Korean organisers to consider ending the event ahead of schedule due to safety concerns.
Organisers will meet on Saturday to discuss whether to continue, suspend or scale back the event, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Hundreds of participants have been treated for heat-related illness at the jamboree as South Korea swelters through the hottest summer in years.
Temperatures across the country have risen as high as 38 degrees Celsius over the past week, with authorities reporting at least 19 deaths from heat-related ailments since May.
About 43,000 people from around the world are taking part in the scouting event, which is held every four years.