World

Dozens treated for heat-related illnesses at World Scout Jamboree in South Korea

An ambulance passes a scout camping site during the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea (Jeonbuk Fire Station/Yonhap via AP)
An ambulance passes a scout camping site during the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea (Jeonbuk Fire Station/Yonhap via AP) An ambulance passes a scout camping site during the World Scout Jamboree in Buan, South Korea (Jeonbuk Fire Station/Yonhap via AP)

At least 108 people have been treated for heat-related illnesses at the World Scout Jamboree being held in South Korea, which is having one of its hottest summers in years.

Most of them 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.

Wednesday night’s opening ceremony of the Jamboree brought more than 40,000 scouts, mostly teenagers, to a campsite built on land reclaimed from the sea in the south-western town of Buan.

Attendees of the World Scout Jamboree rest under the shade at the scout camping site in Buan, South Korea
Attendees of the World Scout Jamboree rest under the shade at the scout camping site in Buan, South Korea Attendees of the World Scout Jamboree rest under the shade at the scout camping site in Buan, South Korea (Chung Gyeong-jae/Yonhap via AP)

The temperature there reached 35C on Wednesday.

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.

There had been concerns about holding the Jamboree in a vast, treeless area lacking refuge from the heat.

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”.

Attendees of the World Scout Jamboree leave a convenience store at the scout camping site in Buan, South Korea
Attendees of the World Scout Jamboree leave a convenience store at the scout camping site in Buan, South Korea Attendees leave a convenience store at the scout camping site in Buan (Chung Gyeong-jae/Yonhap via AP)

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.

The Safety Ministry said at least 16 people have died because of heat-related illnesses since May 20, including two on Tuesday.