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World Watch Wire

  • Argentina: Carnivorous Fish Attck Tourists - Tourists enjoying a sunny Christmas holiday on the Parana River near Rosario experienced a horrible surprise when a swarm of carnivorous fish attacked 70 swimmers, including a young child who had part of her finger amputated. The palometas fish, a relative of the piranha, sometimes bites swimmers but an event of this magnitude is extremely [...]
  • Honduras: State Department Issues Travel Warning - The U.S. State Department reissued a travel warning for Honduras Dec. 24, citing high levels of crime and violence as grounds for added precautions. The country has had the highest murder rate in the world since 2010, with roughly 81 murders per 100,000 people for January through November 2013. Though U.S. citizens are not specifically [...]
  • Indonesia: Series of Volcanic Eruptions at Mt. Sinabung - Nearly 20,000 people fled their homes in Sumatra as the island’s Mt. Sinabung volcano erupted at least nine times Dec. 30. The volcano shot lava and gas 23,000 feet into the air and a three-mile danger zone has been enforced around the crater. The volcano was dormant for 400 years before erupting in 2010, [...]
  • Russia:More Violence in Volgograd - A fresh surge in violence rocked the nation just a month shy of the winter Olympic games. Two bombings claimed the lives of more than 30 people at a train station and on a trolley bus in the southern city of Volgograd. The December 29 and 30 blasts injured another 60, and 5,000 police were [...]
  • UK: New Law For Medical Visits - In an attempt to discourage abuse of the medical system, the British government has announced plans to require migrants and international tourists to pay for any medical attention received in the country. The new law includes emergency medical services and minor surgeries performed in physicians’ offices. The plan, which will be formally announced in March, [...]
  • China: Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28 - The Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28, giving travelers easier access to lesser-known tourist spots along China’s southern coast, including Shantou and Haifeng. The railway covers just over 300 miles and travels at a speed of nearly 125 miles per hour. The coastal city of Xiamen is expected to see a spike in visitors [...]
  • Egypt: The U.S. Department of State Reissues Travel Alert - The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel alert for Egypt Dec. 18, just days before a car bomb killed 14 people at a police compound in Mansoura, 80 miles north of Cairo. The Dec. 24 bombing appears to have targeted police, but reports indicated that several civilians were also killed or injured in [...]
  • Russia: CDC Recommends Precautions for Winter Games - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding those who plan to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to be current with vaccines and is recommending the Hepatitis A vaccine for most travelers. Visitors should also be aware that proof of medical insurance that covers treatment in Russia is required to obtain a [...]
  • Thailand: Protestors Continue to Fill Streets in Bangkok - Protests continue in Bangkok, most recently with thousands of demonstrators attempting to block political candidates from registering at a sports stadium. Tens of thousands also marched in the streets Dec. 22 and protests are expected to continue while political candidates register over the next two weeks, moving toward the country’s February 2014 election date. The [...]
  • Turkey: Fresh Protests in Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square - Police fired water cannons, smoke grenades and teargas to break-up crowds of protestors at Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square Dec. 22. What was meant to be an action against the government’s construction and development plans in the city’s threatened green spaces quickly turned into protests over recent corruption and bribery scandals involving government officials and at least [...]

  • US Dept of State Wire
  • Russian Federation Travel Alert - The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the ongoing tensions along the border with Ukraine and the potential for increased clashes between pro-Russian groups and Ukrainian forces.

    This supersedes the Travel Alert dated June 12 to provide updated information on the security situation along Russia’s border with Ukraine and will expire on October 21, 2014.  

    The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active armed clashes inside Russia or that there are any threats specific to U.S. citizens.  However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region of the Russian Federation, specifically the districts immediately bordering Ukraine in parts of Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware that the tensions described in the State Department’s Travel Warning for Ukraine have the potential to jeopardize the safety and security of U.S. citizens traveling or living in those regions

    A state of emergency, declared by the Russian government, is in effect in the Rostov Oblast bordering Ukraine.  The situation along the border is unpredictable and could change quickly.  Armed, pro-Russian groups are reportedly traveling illegally across the border into Ukraine and could increase the potential for clashes in Russia near the border, and pose a heightened risk for kidnapping and hostage taking.  There have been some claims of artillery falling on the Russian side of the border.  Given the volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling by land from Russia to Ukraine through this region.

    Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, the Federal Aviation Administration has prohibited flight operations by U.S. operators within the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk flight information regions managed by Ukraine.  The International Civil Aviation Organization has also advised air operators of a potentially unsafe situation in the Simferopol region.  U.S. citizen travelers in Russia should be alert to the potential for disruptions to commercial air traffic into and out of Russia and throughout the region, including flight cancellations or changes. 

    U.S. citizens considering travel to the border region in Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of these current political tensions, and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  U.S. citizens who choose to remain in areas where Russia has declared a state of emergency or other border regions should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.

    The Department of State advises U.S. citizens in Russia to avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.  U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia have been the target of frequent demonstrations.  Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time.  These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence.  Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.

    We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step.  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation.  For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

    The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow assists U.S. citizens in Russia.  The Unit can help you with passport issuance and renewal, absentee voting, notarials, and registering a child born abroad.  It also provides emergency services for U.S. citizens in the event of a disaster or in case of illness, arrest, death, or destitution while in Russia. 

    Appointments are required for all non-emergency services; you can make an appointment by calling the ACS unit at (+7) (495) 728-5577, or you may click here to schedule an appointment online.  If you have questions, contact the Unit by writing to moscowwarden@state.gov or visit the Embassy's website.

    Emergency Contact Information in Russia:

    U.S. Embassy Moscow:
    U.S. citizens with an emergency during regular office hours (M-F 9am-6pm, excluding Russian and U.S. holidays) are welcome to visit the ACS unit at the U.S. Embassy, 21 Novinsky Blvd., Moscow.  Tel: (+7) (495) 728-5577 - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., weekdays.
    For after-hours emergencies, call (+7) (495) 728-5000 after 6:00 pm, and on weekends and holidays.

    U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg:
    The U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg is located at 15 Furshatskaya Street, Tel: (+7) (812) 331-2600.  You may contact the Consulate’s ACS unit by e-mail at StPetersburgACS@State.gov, or by fax at (+7) (812) 331-2646, or visit the Consulate website.
    For after-hours emergencies, call (+7) (812) 331-2600 and listen to the recorded message for the Duty Officer’s cell phone number.

    U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok
    The U.S. Consulate General is located at 32 Puskinskaya Street, Vladivostok, Russia 690001
    Tel.: +7 (423) 230-0070, fax: +7 (423) 230-0091
    Emergency telephone:  +7 914-791-0067 (24 hours)
    E-mail:  vladcons@state.gov

    U.S. Consular Agency Yuzho-Sakhalinsk:
    The Consular Agency in Yuzho-Sakhalinsk is located at Lada Hotel Suite 210, 154 Komsomolskaya Street, Tel:  (+7) (424) 242-4917.  You may contact the Consular Agency by e-mail at conagentsakhalin@yahoo.com
    For after-hours emergencies, call (+7) 914-704-0867.

    U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg:
    The U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg is located at 15 Gogolya Street, Tel: (+7) (343) 793-001.  You may contact the Consulate’s ACS Unit by e-mail at COnsulYekat@state.gov or by fax at (+7) (343) 379-4515, or visit the Consulate’s website at http://yekaterinburg.usconsulate.gov.
    For after-hours emergencies, you may call the Duty Officer at (+7) (917) 569-3549.

  • Thailand Travel Alert - The U.S. Department of State reminds U.S. citizens to be alert to the current political and security environment in Thailand under martial law.

    On May 22, the Royal Thai Army seized control of Thailand’s administration under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and imposed a nationwide night time curfew.  On June 13, the NCPO lifted the curfew, but authorities have cautioned it could be reinstated.  Martial law remains in effect throughout Thailand. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on May 28, 2014, to reflect the lifting of the Thailand-wide curfew.  This Travel Alert will expire on August 21, 2014.

    Be aware that under martial law the governing NCPO has considerable security powers.  These powers grant the NCPO the authority to prevent public gatherings, restrict media, set up checkpoints, and search for weapons.  Individuals have been detained for publicly criticizing Thailand’s military takeover, the NCPO, and the Thai monarchy.  Security operations against possible demonstrations have led to traffic disruptions as well as temporary closures of some public transport services, and restriction of access to some areas around major shopping and hotel districts in central Bangkok.

    U.S. citizens may encounter a heightened security, including military, presence throughout Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. U.S citizens are cautioned to avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings.  Although many protest activities have been peaceful, violent incidents involving guns and explosive devices have occurred at or near protest sites.  Some resulted in injury or death.  Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local and international news media reports.  You should allow extra time when travelling thought the city or to/from airports.

    U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Thailand are strongly advised to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in case of an emergency.
     
    Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment. U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment.  The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road in Bangkok, and can be reached by calling 66-2-205-4049, or by e-mailing acsbkk@state.gov.   The Embassy's after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-2-205-4000. 
     
    The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai, is also open unless otherwise indicated.   The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail at acschn@state.gov.   The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878.  You can also follow the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok's American Citizen Services Unit on Twitter for further updates.
     
    Current information on safety and security can also be obtained on our Bureau of Consular Affairs website  or by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

    U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution Follow us on Twitter and Facebook as well.

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