SEOUL, South Korea – At least 108 people were 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 organizing committee.
The committee, which plans to proceed with the event while adding dozens of more medical staff to prepare for further emergencies, did not confirm the ages and other personal details of those who were injured.
Wednesday night’s opening ceremony of the Jamboree, which brought more than 40,000 scouts, mostly teens, to a campsite built on land reclaimed from the sea in the southwestern town of Buan. The temperature there reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.
Lee Sang-min, South Korea’s Minister of the Interior and Safety, during an emergency meeting 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 also 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.
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),” Choi said in a news briefing. He said the large number patients could be linked to a K-pop performance during the opening ceremony, which he said left many of the teens “exhausted after actively releasing their energy.”
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 33 to 38 degrees Celsius (91 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Safety Ministry said at least 16 people have died because of heat-related illnesses since May 20, including two on Tuesday.