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(2nd LD) S. Korea sees coldest weather this winter

All News 14:39 January 24, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, weather in North Korea in last 7 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Sunday experienced the coldest weather this winter with temperatures dropping to near record lows.

As of 5 a.m., the temperature in Seoul was minus 17 degrees Celsius, while the wind chill was minus 23.8 degrees, according to weather officials.

If the mercury drops to below minus 18 degrees, it will be the coldest weather since Jan. 15, 2001, when the temperature reached minus 18.6 degrees, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

On Saturday, the agency issued a cold wave warning for Seoul for the first time in five years. Such a warning is issued if the morning low drops at least 15 degrees from the previous day and at least 3 degrees compared with the average year, or if the temperature remains below minus 15 degrees for two or more days.

Other parts of the country, including Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, near Seoul, were also subject to the warnings.

The weather agency urged special precautions for health and facilities, saying strong winds could cause the temperature to feel colder.

On the southern resort island of Jeju, tens of thousands of travelers have been stranded since Saturday with runways closed due to heavy snow and cold weather.

The island's main airport has banned the use of its runways until 9 a.m. Monday. More than 510 flights to and from Jeju have been canceled for the day, and some 60 flights canceled for early Monday morning.

Stranded passengers roamed inside the airport as airport and local administration officials scrambled to help them find transportation back to the city and accommodation there.

Some travelers expressed frustration at certain airlines, saying they were not informed of the flight cancellations.

Meanwhile, in North Korea's northeastern tip, the mercury dropped to minus 37.5 degrees on Saturday night, according to the South Korean weather agency.

Temperatures in Pyongyang dropped further from minus 15 degrees on Saturday to minus 19 degrees early Sunday.

North Korean authorities have also issued cold wave warnings and urged people to take special care not to get frostbite, according to North Korean state media.

U.S.-based Radio Free Asia reported Saturday that more than 40,000 North Korean workers have been withdrawn from construction sites amid the freezing weather.

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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