Stranded Korean tourists in Guam will be able to start returning home from Monday, said the Foreign Ministry.
“As the international airport in Guam is expected to start operating again from 3 p.m. Monday, Korea plans to send in a Korean Air flight at 5 p.m. which will return with passengers,” said the ministry in a statement Sunday.
Typhoon Mawar battered the U.S. Pacific territory last Wednesday, damaging airport runways, toppling trees and cutting off power and water supplies. It left around 3,400 Korean tourists stranded on the island.
No casualties or serious injuries have been reported so far.
“There have been no reports of anyone falling seriously ill or in need of emergency medical attention,” said a senior-ranking Foreign Ministry official who spoke with the press on Sunday.
Additional flights, to be operated by Korean Air, T’way Air, Jin Air and Jeju Air, were scheduled to arrive on the island to bring back the stranded tourists.
The island is home to around 5,000 overseas Koreans.
The Korean consulate in Hagatna, the capital of Guam, with the assistance of the locals, set up three emergency shelters for the stranded tourists Sunday.
“With the assistance of some locals who stepped forward, three emergency shelters have been set up, which can take in 135 people total,” said the Foreign Ministry official. “As of Sunday,
Locals on the island have reportedly donated water, packs of noodles and other emergency relief goods to the Korean consulate in Hagatna to be distributed to the temporary shelters.
The airport in Guam operated only cargo flights Sunday.
“At this time, the [A. B. Won Pat International Airport Authority in Guam] GIAA runway is open for humanitarian and essential cargo operations only, with prior permission being required,” said John M. Quinata, executive manager of the airport, on Sunday.
“I want the public to know that employees of the GIAA, as well as those of airlines, tenants, vendors, and contractors have been working tirelessly around the clock to get the terminal ready for inbound and outbound passenger processing.”
The Korean travelers on the island were estimated안전놀이터 to take up as much as half of the international travelers on the island as of Sunday, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau.
As some struggled with extending their stay at over-booked hotels, locals and other tourists stepped up to offer a helping hand.
A 40-year-old man who wished to be identified only by his surname Lee said he decided to give up his hotel room to a pregnant woman and her husband upon learning they couldn’t find a place to stay.
Lee, who had gone to Guam for a business trip, was able to shelter at a friend’s house.
“I’m going to be a father in a month,” Lee told the JoongAng Ilbo. “I couldn’t stand watching pregnant women worry about the lack of iron supplements. My friend and I are scouring through hotel lobbies to see if there are any young children or pregnant women who want to sleep in our living room.”
A 48-year-old surnamed Ahn, who’s been living on the island for 20 years running a guest house, said he was offering free rooms to pregnant women or anyone with an illness.
“It’s the least that a Korean expat can do,” he said.
Korean travel agencies said they were discussing plans to offer up to 900,000 won ($680) in compensation per tourist.
After it knocked down trees and power lines across much of Guam last Wednesday, Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon — the highest level for a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of at least 241 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) — as it moved into open water.
17 people have opted to use these shelters.”
According to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), Mawar is predicted to head north from waters off the Philippines on Tuesday morning, making its way toward the Korean Peninsula.
The storm, however, was expected to lose speed as it makes the journey, possibly reaching as low as 6 kilometers per hour, much lower than when it impacted Guam.
The KMA said in a statement that Mawar could travel near waters off southern Japan, but stressed that the forecast could most likely change.