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Heavy snow paralyzes Jeju Airport

Posted January. 25, 2016 07:38,   

Updated January. 25, 2016 07:55

After a week-long cold spell on the Korean Peninsular, the cold snap, heavy snow, and strong winds have paralyzed the traffic on Jeju Island, isolating the entire island.

According to the Jeju branch of the Korea Meteorological Agency on Sunday, the island had 12 centimeters of snow on Saturday alone. It is a record high snowfall in 32 years since January 1984 when it had 13.9 centimeters of snow and it is the third largest snowfall since observation in the region began in 1923.

As masses of air of minus 40 degrees Celsius hovering 5.5 kilometers above from the ground pushed down to the Korean Peninsula, heavy snows and strong winds of 30 meters per second have been hitting the generally warm island. It is uncertain whether the conditions will improve on Monday. According to the Jeju meteorological office, a warning for heavy snowfall and strong winds, which has been effective since 4 a.m. on Saturday, is likely to continue until Monday morning.

After heavy snows blocked runways on Saturday, the Jeju International Airport could not function have been paralyzed for two consecutive days. Up until now, a total of some 850 flights – 295 flights on Saturday, 516 on Sunday, some 40 on Monday – have been cancelled. An estimated 120,000 passengers have been stranded and around 1,000 passengers sleeping at the airport everyday. The airport has turned into a huge shelter for refugees.

The Jeju office of Korea Airports Corporation is expected to resume the flight of planes from 9 a.m. on Monday, depending on weather conditions.

제주=이형주기자 peneye09@donga.com