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(3rd LD) S. Korea sees coldest weather this winter

All News 16:57 January 24, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with record low temperature, more details)

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

The temperature in Seoul fell to minus 18 degrees Celsius, the lowest since Jan. 15, 2001, when the mercury dropped to 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.

At Seoul's Yongsan station, a train's departure was delayed by 9 minutes because a door froze in the few minutes that it was left open, according to the train's operator.

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 accommodations there.

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

However, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and other carriers said they have no plans to reimburse the passengers as the disruptions were due to natural causes.

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.


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