Blizzard strands 86,000 in South Korean resort island of Jeju

Planes are seen on the snow covered landing strip at Jeju International Airport on Jeju island, South Korea, January 24, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - Close to 90,000 people were stranded on the South Korean resort island of Jeju on Monday (Jan 25) after the biggest snowfall in three decades shut the airport for the third straight day.

Known as the Hawaii of South Korea for its beaches and usually warm climate, Jeju took the brunt of a week-long cold snap that sent the mercury plunging to record lows across the country.

The popular holiday destination has recorded its heaviest snowfall in three decades since Saturday, as the temperature dropped to -6.1 deg C.

The Transport Ministry said Jeju International Airport would remain closed until at least 8pm (7pm Singapore time) on Monday due to heavy snow and strong winds.

Related: China hit by record-breaking cold snap

Close to 1,100 flights were cancelled over the weekend and Monday, stranding some 86,000 frustrated travellers on the island, a ministry officials aid.

Thousands were forced to spend the night at the airport, bundled up in blankets and sleeping on cardboard boxes to avoid the freezing floors.

Although it was spared any snowfall, the capital Seoul recorded its coldest day in 15 years on Sunday, when the temperature fell to minus 18 deg C.

On Saturday, the state weather agency issued a cold wave warning for Seoul for the first time in five years.