South Korea and Japan deal with heavy snowfall and delays

South Korea and Japan deal with heavy snowfall and delays


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of travelers stormed a small airport on South Korea’s Jeju Island Wednesday, scrambling to catch flights after snow storm delays as cold winter gripped. East Asia for the second day in a row.

South Korean Ministry of Interior and Security officials did not immediately report major damage or injuries from the freezing temperatures and frost that have affected most of the country since Tuesday.

But at least eight highways and 10 shipping lanes remained closed as of Wednesday afternoon. Some 140 houses in the capital Seoul and nearby regions reported water pressure pumps or broken pipes as temperatures dropped to around minus 15 to minus 20 degrees Celsius (5 to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) across the mainland.

In Japan, heavy snowfall and record low temperatures also caused widespread outages.

At least one person has died and two more deaths are under investigation in connection with the cold weather, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Thousands of people using train services in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures in western Japan were forced to spend the night in carriages or stations, while vehicles on major highways across the country were stranded and hundreds of flights were cancelled, Kyodo News reported.

Air traffic returned to normal after hundreds of flights in and out of Jeju were grounded on Tuesday due to strong winds and snow, stranding some 40,000 travelers who had visited the resort island for the New Year holidays. Mole.

About 540 flights, including nearly 70 that were temporarily added by transportation authorities in an emergency response, were scheduled to fly in and out of Jeju on Wednesday alone, mostly to bring passengers back to mainland cities. .

The Korea Airports Corporation said operating hours at Gimpo airport near Seoul have been extended to 1 a.m. to accommodate the increase in flights, which was expected to bring back 70-80%. of the passengers who were stuck in Jeju.

The island has seen more than 19 centimeters (7.5 inches) of snow since Tuesday morning, while southern mainland cities and towns like Gwangju and Gangjin reported around 10 to 12 centimeters (3.9 to 4.7 inches) of snow. More than 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) of snow fell on the small eastern island of Ulleung.

Winter storms appeared to be moving toward the greater Seoul area and nearby regions, where heavy snowfall was expected from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, according to the Ministry of Security, which warned of dangerous road conditions.

Cold weather warnings have also been issued in North Korea, where authorities have reportedly called for “extensive measures” to prevent sub-zero temperatures from causing economic damage. Temperatures in the capital Pyongyang are forecast to drop to minus 19 C (minus 2.2 F) through Wednesday morning, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, citing a North Korean state radio broadcast. .

North Korean state media did not immediately report any major damage or injuries caused by the weather.

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