Snow causes chaos and delays in South Korea and Japan

SEOUL, South Korea (HPD) — Thousands of travelers thronged a small airport on South Korea’s Jeju island Wednesday in an attempt to get flights after several delays due to blizzards, the second straight day of frigid weather in eastern Korea. Asia.

The South Korean Ministry of Interior and Security did not report serious damage or injuries at first from the subzero temperatures and frosts 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 homes in the capital Seoul and neighboring regions reported burst pipes or pumps as temperatures fell to -15 to -20 degrees Celsius (5 to -4 degrees Fahrenheit) across the South Korean mainland.

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

At least one person died and two other deaths were being investigated in connection with the cold snap, the government’s chief secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, told reporters.

Thousands of train passengers in the western Kyoto and Shiga prefectures were forced to spend the night in carriages or stations, vehicles were stuck on major highways and hundreds of flights were cancelled, according to Kyodo News.

On Jeju Island, air traffic returned to normal after hundreds of flights to or from Jeju Island were grounded on Tuesday by snow and strong winds. The cancellations grounded some 40,000 travelers who had visited the resort island for Lunar New Year celebrations.

On Wednesday, 540 flights were planned, including 70 temporarily added by transport authorities as an emergency response. Most of the routes carried passengers back to cities on the mainland.

Gimpo airport near Seoul extended its hours until 1 a.m. to accommodate the additional flights, which were expected to bring back 70-80 percent of the passengers stuck in Jeju, the Jeju Airports Corporation said. Korea.

More than 19 centimeters (7.5 inches) of snow had fallen on the island since Tuesday morning, while mainland towns in the south, such as Gwangju and Gangjin, reported around 10 to 12 centimeters (3.9 to 4.7 inches) of snow. More than 70 cm (27.5 inches) of snow fell on the small eastern island of Ulleung.

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

Authorities in Gyeonggi province, which surrounds Seoul, said nearly 7,000 cold shelters would be opened and several thousand tons of chemicals would be used to clear snow and improve road safety from the risk of license plates. ice.

Cold weather advisories were also issued in North Korea as authorities called for “comprehensive measures” to prevent freezing temperatures from causing economic damage. The temperature in the capital Pyongyang was expected to drop to -19 degrees Celsius (-2.2 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday morning, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, citing a report on North Korean state radio.

North Korean state media did not immediately report serious damage or injuries from the weather.

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