British scouts who have been pulled out of an international jamboree in South Korea due to a heatwave have begun arriving at hotels in the country’s capital Seoul.
Temperatures have risen to 35C at the World Scout Jamboree campsite near the south-western town of Buan, where more than 40,000 scouts from around the world have gathered for the 12-day event.
Among them are around 4,500 British scouts aged 14 to 17, some of whom have needed treatment for heat-related illnesses.
They have been moved to hotels in Seoul for the next two days to help “alleviate the pressure” on the campsite.
On Saturday the UK Scout Association, which is the largest contingent at the Jamboree, said young people and adult volunteers have begun arriving in Seoul and are “settling into their accommodation.”
It said in a statement: “Coaches of our young people and volunteers have already starting safely arriving in Seoul.
“They are settling into their accommodation.
“As we are the largest contingent, our hope is that this helps alleviate the pressure on the site overall.
“We know that may be a disappointment for some and we will continue the Jamboree experience in Seoul, working with Korean authorities on a programme of activities so our young people still get the most from their time in Korea.
“Young people will travel home as originally planned from August 13.
“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.”
Annabel Shackleton told Sky News her 17-year-old son Aaron faced “hugely uncomfortable” conditions at the event, but he and his friends are “gutted” at having to leave the main site.
She told the broadcaster: “Some of the teenagers were suffering with the heat.
“There was concern [from parents], especially when we heard there was a lack of food. But they have survived, and in the photographs we have seen, there are smiles on their faces.
“I know they are gutted. We have heard from them, they are gutted. But they are just taking each day as it comes.”
The world scouting body has asked the South Korean government to end the event early but it was decided that it would continue.
The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) said in a statement: “We have been informed that the UK Contingent has decided to leave the Jamboree camp early, allowing the scouts to continue their Jamboree experience in Seoul until they are scheduled to travel home.”
“The host (Korean Scout Association) decided to go ahead with the event, assuring that they will do everything possible to address the issues caused by the heatwave by adding additional resources.
“We continue to call on the host and the Korean government to honour their commitments to mobilise additional financial and human resources, and to make the health and safety of the participants their top priority.”
Hundreds of US scouts could also pull out on Sunday and relocate to the Camp Humphreys US military base near Seoul, the Associated Press reported.
An email the contingent sent to members said it was necessary to leave because of the “extreme weather and resulting conditions”.
Scouts from 158 countries are attending the Jamboree which is hosted by a different nation every four years.
At least 108 people have been treated for heat-related illnesses, most of whom have recovered, it was reported on Thursday.
Activities requiring hard physical effort have been cancelled and organisers have brought more emergency vehicles, medical staff and air conditioning to the site.
South Korea this week raised its hot weather warning to the highest “serious” level for the first time in four years.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We understand that a decision has been taken by Scouts UK to relocate British scouts from the World Scout Jamboree at SaeManGeum to Seoul.
“The Embassy remains in close contact with Scouts UK and will continue to provide support where required.”