Scottish Scouts are among thousands to be pulled out of an international outdoor event in South Korea after the country was hit by an extreme heatwave.
More than 4,000 Scouts from across Britain, the largest group in attendance at the World Scout Jamboree, are leaving the site amid 35C temperatures, the Scout Association confirmed.
At least 108 people have been treated for heat-related illnesses at the event, attended by more than 40,000 young people from across the world.
A statement from the Scout Association said its group will be moved into hotels in a bid to “alleviate the pressure on the site overall”.
It read: “While we have been on site at the Jamboree, the UK volunteer team has worked extremely hard with the organisers, for our youth members and adult volunteers to have enough food and water to sustain them, shelter from the unusually hot weather, and toilets and washing facilities appropriate for an event of this scale.”
The World Scout Jamboree is being held at a campsite built on land reclaimed from the sea in the south-western town of Buan, amid one of South Korea’s hottest summers in years.
South Korea this week raised its hot weather warning to the highest “serious” level for the first time in four years as temperatures nationwide hovered between 33C and 38C.
Most of those affected by the heat have recovered but at least two remain in treatment at an on-site hospital as of Thursday morning, said Choi Chang-haeng, secretary-general of the Jamboree’s organising committee.
The committee, which plans to proceed with the event while adding dozens more medical staff to prepare for further emergencies, did not confirm the ages and other personal details of those who were affected.
During an emergency meeting, South Korea’s minister of the interior and safety Lee Sang-min instructed officials to explore “all possible measures” to protect the participants, including adjusting the event’s outdoor activities, adding more emergency vehicles and medical posts, and adding more shade structures and air-conditioning.
He said the goal is to prevent “even one serious illness or death”, according to comments shared by the ministry.
Mr Choi insisted that the event was safe enough to continue and similar situations could have occurred if the Jamboree was held elsewhere.
“The participants came from afar and hadn’t yet adjusted (to the weather),” he said at a news briefing.
Mr Choi said the large number of patients could be linked to a K-pop performance during the opening ceremony, which he said left many of the teenagers “exhausted after actively releasing their energy”.
STV News meteorologist Sean Batty said: “We all know southern Europe has experienced a major heatwave this summer, well so has parts of Asia, with China hitting a new all-time record of 52.2C in mid-July.
“There’s a strong typhoon near Taiwan at the moment and that’s helping pull warm air northwards towards Korea. Typhoon Khanun looks to be a slow-moving storm and is expected to stay well south for the time being and only expected to reach southern Japan on Tuesday. This means the warm air will continue to be drawn north with temperatures at the Jamboree camp staying in the low to mid 30s.
“Khanun will need to be watched as its current forecast track takes it along the east coast of Korea later next week and this would bring strong winds to all parts of the country along with the risk of heavy rain in the closing days of the Jamboree.”