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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Alamy British scouts leave the jamboree campsite in Buan
Be prepared

Irish scouts at world jamboree to leave ahead of tropical storm in South Korea

Tropical Storm Khanun is expected to make landfall in South Korea on Thursday morning.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 7th 2023, 4:39 PM

IRISH SCOUTS AT the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea are leaving early due to an incoming storm.

Tropical Storm Khanun is expected to make landfall in South Korea on Thursday morning, packing high winds.

Large swathes of the country’s south, including Buan where the jamboree is being held, could be affected by the storm as early as Wednesday, according to South Korean forecasts.

Tens of thousands of scouts – mostly teenagers – from 158 countries are being evacuated out of the storm’s path.

There are 144 scouts and 78 adults from Ireland attending the jamboree.

Jill Pitcher-Farrell, the chief scout at Scouting Ireland, said Irish attendees would be leaving early tomorrow, travelling as a contingent, and staying in the capital Seoul.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, she said: “There’ll be no one’s on site, basically, on Wednesday, when the bad weather hits.

“The Irish contingent were quite relieved with this decision. We think it’s in the best interest of all the participants and the staff here and it’s the safest thing to do, and that there will be adequate time to get everyone off the site before any of the bad weather hits.”

Pitcher-Farrell said the Irish contingent will stay in South Korea until Saturday as planned, and will go ahead with post-camp activities.

Some 900 buses will be used to transfer scouts to their new accommodation. Scouts are expected to begin leaving the jamboree site at 8am Korean time on Tuesday morning.

All scouts are being transported to the greater Seoul area with accommodation being provided by the South Korean government in various facilities, including community centres, gymnasiums, schools, hostels, and hotels.

Hot temperatures have already forced thousands of British and American scouts to leave the site, which is made on land reclaimed from sea. Hundreds of participants had been treated for heat-related ailments since the jamboree started on Wednesday.

Long before the event’s start, critics raised concerns about bringing such large numbers of young people to a vast, treeless area lacking protection from the summer heat.

It is anticipated that it will take up to 14 hours for all 40,000 scouts on-site to be transported from the site.

A statement from Scouting Ireland this evening said: “Spirits among the Irish contingent are high and everyone is calmly preparing for site departure.

“The plan is for the entire Jamboree to reconvene on the 11th of August in a closed/roofed stadium for a K-pop concert and closing ceremony. The Irish team are also hoping to schedule activities for our scouts in and around Seoul once the weather improves.”

Choi Chang-haeng, secretary-general of the jamboree’s organising committee, said officials have secured more than 340 evacuation venues, including community centres and gyms, in regions near Buan.

About 4,500 were from the UK, representing the largest national contingent, while about 1,000 were from the United States.

UK Scouts, which pulled its members out of the jamboree before Scouting Ireland, has said it will face an impact on its activities for up to five years after spending £1 million evacuating youngsters.

Its chief executive Matt Hyde said the money used to move 4,500 scouts and adult volunteers into hotels in Seoul was taken from its “reserves”.

UK Scouts had become increasingly concerned about the sanitation of the toilets at the jamboree site, as well as the availability of food, medical services and the “punishing heat”.

Pitcher-Farrell said there was “no denying” that it was very hot, but she said Irish scouts “had a really, really good time.

“They really enjoyed the jamboree atmosphere, they got to enjoy the international experience and the programme.

“We’re glad we stayed for the for the last couple of days.”

Asked about Scouts UK’s criticism of the availability of food and sanitary conditions at the site, Pitcher-Farrell said: “That wasn’t our experience.

“Our experience from the whole Irish contingent is that there has been adequate food – very different foods, very different to our own Irish foods … But the food has been plentiful.

“And the sanitary conditions drastically improved after the first day or two. And we’ve had extra provisions ourselves as a contingent, with hand sanitiser available, lots of soap and extra bits.”

Additional reporting by PA

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