200 scouts return to Hong Kong after 'difficult' night at Taiwan airport

200 scouts return to Hong Kong after 'difficult' night at Taiwan airport

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Just four blankets were available to the entire group during its overnight stay.
Photo: SCMP Pictures

About 200 Hong Kong scouts who were stranded by a typhoon at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for almost 24 hours in reportedly questionable conditions finally touched down on the city late on Monday afternoon.

The group had been returning from the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan, on Sunday when their flight was grounded in Taiwan because of wild weather caused by typhoon Soudelor.

Just four blankets were available to the entire group during its overnight stay, according to Hong Kong media reports, while photographs apparently showed scouts using torn-up cardboard boxes to sleep underneath.

Some parents were cited as saying scouts had been given sandwiches and one can of soft drink to share between three people.

The Scout Association of Hong Kong said scout leaders had looked after their youth members at Taoyuan airport, while an additional group of leaders had been posted at Hong Kong International Airport to provide help and support.

A spokeswoman said the association’s Taipei-based counterparts had helped.

“Thanks for the prompt and great support rendered by The General Association of the Scouts of China, and also the assistance from the airlines and other parties,” she said. “All our scouts arrived [in] Hong Kong safely in the late afternoon on Monday.”

The spokeswoman did not directly address allegations that the scouts slept in poor conditions or did not have enough to eat or drink.

Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said it learned of the incident on Monday morning and had contacted the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei to check on the group.

“It was confirmed that all students were in safe areas and receiving appropriate assistance on [Monday] morning,” a spokeswoman said.

She confirmed the last of the scout group returned to Hong Kong on Monday afternoon.

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