Earthquake, wind and fire: extreme conditions hit Olympics

Feb 12, 2018, 09:16 IST | AFP

An earthquake triggered an alert and high winds disrupted competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics today, as officials warned of a severe freeze and urged fans to wrap up warm

Representational Picture
Representational Picture

An earthquake triggered an alert and high winds disrupted competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics today, as officials warned of a severe freeze and urged fans to wrap up warm. After a bitterly cold first night of competition, a shallow 4.6-magnitude earthquake jolted the eastern portion of South Korea overnight, prompting warnings on mobile phones.

Early on Sunday, ski officials were forced to postpone the showpiece men's downhill until Thursday as buffeting winds made the high-speed slope too dangerous for competition. Later, the women's slopestyle snowboarding also fell victim to the wind, as the qualifying session was scrapped with riders going straight into the final on Monday. It comes after the first ski jumping final finished more than an hour behind schedule, past midnight on Saturday, as competitors were held up by swirling winds.

As if to complete the set of extreme conditions, an alert warning of a high risk of fire -- given the dry, windy weather -- also flashed up on mobile phones on Sunday. Organisers gave assurances that the Games were at no risk from earthquakes, with venues built to withstand even strong tremors. Sunday's quake was measured at magnitude-4.7 by the US Geological Survey and was about 260 kilometres (160 miles) away.

"All the facilities in the Games area are built so they can withstand strong earthquakes over 7.0... so I assure you there was no issue regarding these facilities," said Sung Baik-you, spokesman for the Games organisers.

Of more concern for the sparse crowds at the outdoor events will be the biting cold, which has already made Pyeongchang one of the chilliest Olympics on record -- and which is set to dramatically worsen.

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