Tens of thousands of scouts, including hundreds of Canadians, will begin evacuating Tuesday from an international scouting jamboree along the country’s western coast before the expected arrival of a typhoon.
More than 1,000 vehicles will be used starting Tuesday morning to move 36,000 scouts — mostly teenagers — from the World Scout Jamboree in the southwestern county of Buan, said Kim Sung-ho, a vice minister at South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
Most of the scouts, who come from 158 countries, will be accommodated at venues in the capital city of Seoul and the nearby metropolitan area, he said. Officials were trying to secure spaces at government training centres and education facilities as well as hotels.
Scouts Canada said 235 Canadian youth and 143 volunteers are attending the event.
“This is not an emergency evacuation; it is a planned early departure from the jamboree site to ensure the ongoing safety of our youth and volunteers,” Scouts Canada spokeswoman Anissa Stambouli said in an email.
The weather at the site remains normal, she said, and has been sunny and warm.
“Canadian youth are in good spirits and have continued to enjoy jamboree experience,” Stambouli said, adding “parents of participants are being kept informed.”
Tropical Storm Khanun is expected to make landfall in South Korea on Thursday morning, South Korea’s weather agency reported.
It could bring winds of between 118 and 154 km/h. Large swaths of the country’s south, including Buan, could be affected by the storm as early as Wednesday, the agency said.
Stambouli said jamboree activities will continue in the Seoul area and the Canadian contingent will leave as planned on Aug. 12.
More than 4,000 British scouts — the largest national contingent at the jamboree — and hundreds of scouts from the United States began leaving the treeless campsite on Saturday due to extreme heat.
British Scouts were moved to hotels, while the U.S. scouts were relocated to an American military base near the capital.
On Saturday, Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told a news conference that the government would provide additional safety measures, including more medical staff, air-conditioned vehicles and structures that provide shade after hundreds of participants were treated for health-related illnesses.
Scouts Canada said six Canadian youth and four volunteers suffered from heat stress, but no members of the Canadian contingent have been hospitalized for heat-related illness.
The Canadians were camping in a different area than the scouts from the United Kingdom and did not have the same issues, Scouts Canada said Sunday, adding all the participating Canadian groups wanted to stay at the event.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press