April 21, 2008
One of the poorest countries in the world, Burundi is a small, densely populated central African nation bordering Lake Tanganyika, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democrati
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa and evidence of immunization against yellow fever are required for entry. Travelers with an expired visa are not permitted to leave the country without acquiring an exit visa prior to departure. The latest information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, Suite 212, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone (202) 342-2574, or from the Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations in New York at telephone (212) 499-0001 thru 0006.
For information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction, please refer to related web pages at http://travel.state.gov. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
See the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Burundi.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits, poses a high risk for foreign visitors to Bujumbura and Burundi in general. Common crimes include mugging, purse-snatching, pick pocketing, burglary, automobile break-ins and carjacking. Many criminal incidents involve armed attackers. Armed criminals often ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. Criminals in Bujumbura often operate in pairs or in small groups involving six or more individuals. Due to insufficient resources, local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance in case of need.
U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets during the hours of darkness and using local, public transportation. Foreigners, whether in vehicles or at home, are always potential crime targets. Americans should exercise common sense judgment and take the same precautions as one would in any major city.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to the local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Burundi generally do not meet Western standards of care. Travelers should carry an ample supply of properly-labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them, as certain medications and prescription drugs are unavailable or in short supply. Sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Ambulance assistance is non-existent. Hospital care in Burundi should be considered in only the most serious cases and when no reasonable alternatives are available.
Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for travel to all parts of Burundi.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance companies prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policies apply overseas and/or cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: When in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Burundi is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
While travel on most roads is generally safe during the day, travelers must maintain constant vigilance. There have been regular reports of violent attacks on vehicles traveling the roads throughout the country outside of Bujumbura. U.S. Government personnel are required to travel upcountry via two-vehicle convoys and have their trips pre-approved by the Regional Security Officer. The Embassy recommends that Americans not travel on the national highways from dusk to dawn. Drivers without valid permits, and the ease with which a driver's license can be acquired without training, make Burundian drivers less careful, predictable, or mindful of driving rules than Western drivers may expect.
There are no traffic signals in Bujumbura, and virtually nothing of the kind elsewhere in the country. Roadways are not marked, and the lack of streetlights or shoulders makes driving in the countryside at night especially dangerous. Additionally, drivers may encounter cyclists, pedestrians, and livestock in the roadway, including in and around the capital. Mini-vans used as buses for 18 persons should be given a wide berth as they start and stop abruptly, often without pulling to the side of the road.
Large holes or damaged portions of roadway may be encountered anywhere in the country, including in Bujumbura; when driving in the countryside, it is recommended that travelers carry multiple spare tires. During the rainy season, many side roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Burundi’s supply of gasoline and diesel fuel are imported predominantly from Kenya and Tanzania, and are relatively expensive due to high transportation costs. Service stations are rare outside of the major cities.
Third-party insurance is required, and it will cover any damages (property, injury, or death). If you are found to have caused an accident, you automatically will be fined 10,000 Burundian francs (approximately $10 U.S.) and your driver's license will be confiscated until the police investigation is completed. Although the law provides for the arrest of drunk drivers, in practice, the police do not act on this law. In the city of Bujumbura, the number for police assistance is 22-22-37-77; there is no comparable number outside the capital. If you are involved in an accident causing death, it is advised that you leave the scene of the accident and proceed to the nearest police station.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Burundi’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
There are no ATMs located in the country and most Burundian hotels and businesses do not accept credit cards. Many hotels in Bujumbura accept payment in U.S. dollars or Euros from non-Burundians. Travelers should be aware that Burundian banking practices prohibit acceptance of U. S. currency printed before the year 2003.
The Embassy recommends that visitors do not photograph airports, military installations, or other government buildings, and obtain permission from individuals before taking their photographs. Please see our Customs Information.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Burundian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled from the country, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Burundi are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Burundi are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel within Burundi and the Embassy’s current security policies, including areas that are off-limits to U.S. Government personnel for security reasons. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenue des Etats-Unis, telephone (257) 22-22-34-54, fax (257) 22-22-29-26. The Embassy's web site is http://burundi.usembassy.gov/.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Burundi dated July 18, 2007, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Nairobi, Aug 14, 2019 (AFP) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that Burundi had begun vaccinating frontline workers against Ebola at its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an outbreak of the virus has killed close to 1,900 people. The campaign to vaccinate at-risk staff against the deadly hemorrhagic fever started Tuesday at Gatumba, the main crossing point from Burundi to its much-larger neighbour, WHO said.
Burundi has received doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, an unlicensed product that has been shown to be effective against the Zairian strain of the virus raging in DR Congo. It would be administered to those at greatest risk such as health workers along the border, laboratory staff and burial teams, WHO said. "The vaccination of health and frontline staff is a significant step forward in preparing for the response to this disease," said Dr Kazadi Mulombo, WHO representative in Burundi.
The vaccine, developed by US pharmaceutical group Merck, proved "highly effective" in a trial conducted in Guinea in 2015 during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, he added. The vaccination campaign will be overseen by WHO and Burundi's health ministry. The Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo is the second-worst in history. A total of 1,892 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak began on August 1 2018. No cases of Ebola have been recorded so far in Burundi, a tiny nation of 11 million. But its border with DR Congo is 236 kilometres (147 miles) long and considered highly porous, and the whole region is on high alert.
In June, three people from one family died in Uganda from Ebola after returning from DR Congo via an unofficial crossing point. Burundi also shares a border with Rwanda and Tanzania. The Congo outbreak is the first where vaccines have been rolled out on a large-scale. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine has already been administered to some 170,000 people, especially frontline workers, in DR Congo. This week, US researchers announced that two prototype drugs being tested among Ebola patients in eastern DR Congo boost chances of surviving the disease.
Nairobi, Aug 6, 2019 (AFP) - Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN's humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 -- a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between January 1 and July 21, OCHA said.
The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed "epidemic proportions" in May. "The national malaria outbreak response plan, which is currently being validated, has highlighted a lack of human, logistical and financial resources for effective response," OCHA said in its latest weekly bulletin on humanitarian emergencies. "All stakeholders, including the national authorities and partners are called upon to provide the requisite resources to mount a robust response to this event before it escalates." A lack of preventative measures like mosquito nets, climatic changes and increased movements of people from mountain areas with low immunity to malaria were driving the crisis, OCHA said.
- 'Many crises' -
An OCHA official told AFP that "the decision to declare an epidemic is the sovereignty of the Burundian state". The country declared a malaria epidemic in March 2017, when the country had recorded 1.8 million cases and 700 deaths, but was resisting doing the same now. A senior government official, who declined to be named, said the government did not want to admit weakness with elections set for 2020. "We are less than a year away from the presidential election. (President Pierre) Nkurunziza, who is facing many crises, does not want to recognise what could be considered a failure of his health policy," the official told AFP. Burundi has been in crisis since 2015, when Nkurunziza ran for a third term and was re-elected in elections boycotted by most of the opposition.
At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 displaced in violence the UN says was mostly carried out by state security forces. Nkurunziza announced in 2018 that he would not stand again, confounding critics who accused him of working to extend his grip on power. UN investigators said in July that "drastic" steps were needed to boost democratic freedoms in Burundi if the government wanted the elections to be considered credible.
Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the region, abuts DR Congo, where the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history has killed more than 1,800 people amid fears the infectious fever could spread beyond its borders. But malaria is a much bigger killer on the continent. The World Health Organization recorded nearly 220 million cases of the parasitic illness in 2017, with an estimated 435,000 deaths. More than 90 percent of malaria cases and deaths were in Africa.
Nairobi, March 16, 2018 (AFP) - Nine workers at a construction site outside Burundi's capital Bujumbura were killed in a landslide on Friday, police said. Heavy seasonal rains caused the hillside next to the Gasenyi river, east of the city, to collapse burying the workers who were building a channel to redirect the river's floodwaters. Police said in a statement that nine bodies had so far been found, while rescue efforts continue.
Turkey is officially known as the Republic of Turkey and is bordered on the northwest by Bulgaria and Greece, on the north by the Black Sea and on the south by Syria, Iraq and t
The Mediterranean and Aegean shores of Turkey have long and hot summers with a milder winter. In Istanbul the average July temperature reaches 230C while in January it can drop to 00C. Throughout the country the annual rainfall is about 29". This is mainly during the months of December and January.
Health Care Facilities:
The level of adequate health facilities vary considerably within the country. Most of the better hotels will have access to English speaking doctors but care may be required if hospital admission is required.
Cholera and other water borne diseases are frequently reported from Istanbul. In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir there are regular reports of dysentery, typhoid, meningitis and other contagious diseases.
General Food & Water Hygiene:
There can be little doubt that travellers to Turkey who disregard basic hygiene precautions will run a risk of developing significant illness and a ruined holiday. With simple general care most tourists will remain healthy.
Always eat in clean restaurants and hotels. Eat freshly cooked hot food. Stay away from cold salads, especially lettuce. Don’t eat any of the bivalve shellfish dishes such as oysters and mussels. Never eat food prepared by street vendors. Always peel your own fruit if at all possible.
Never use the hotel tap water for drinking or brushing your teeth unless you can easily smell chlorine. Don’t allow ice in your drinks and be wary of the hotel water jug which may be in your room each day. Any of the canned drinks or bottles are usually quite safe. Just check the seal first!
Rabies in Turkey:
This disease is only a particularly risk for travellers who plan to have extended trekking holidays throughout Turkey. Most tourists travelling for a ‘sun’ holiday would be very unfortunate to be exposed but nevertheless care should be taken at all times to ensure that there is no contact with warm blooded animals. This is mainly true for dogs and cats but any infected
warm blooded animal can transmit the disease through its saliva. Any bite, lick or scratch should be treated seriously.
Wash out the area
Apply an antiseptic
Attend for urgent medical attention
The immense strength of the sun in the Middle East can often be underestimated by the Irish traveller. This is especially true for small children and the elderly. Try and stay out of the direct sunlight between 11am to 4pm. Use a wide brimmed hat if possible to protect yourself. Drink plenty of fluid (about 2 or 3 times as much as in Ireland) and remember to increase your salt intake unless this is contraindicated because of high blood pressure or heart disease etc. Any signs of dehydration should be recognised and treated early (dry lips, headache etc.).
This bacterial disease is sometimes contracted by travellers who purchase untreated leather goods while abroad.
Remember that Turkey is regarded as a gateway to Europe. Never agree to carry belongings for others unless you are certain of the contents.
Malaria in Turkey:
The risk of malaria in Turkey is very limited and transmission usually only occurs between the months of March to November in the Çukurova / Amikova areas and from mid-March to mid-October in southeast Anatolia. These are mainly away from the standard tourist routes and so prophylaxis will usually not be required. Nevertheless there may be an abundant supply of mosquitoes and other insects around. Travellers should carry insect repellents and wear longer sleeved clothing when at risk.
Vaccinations for Turkey:
There are no compulsory vaccines for entry to Turkey from Ireland. However, travellers are advised to ensure that they are adequately covered against Poliomyelitis, Typhoid, Tetanus and Hepatitis A. Those spending longer in the country or undertaking a trekking holiday may also need to consider vaccination cover against Rabies and Hepatitis B .
Travellers can obtain further health information for overseas travel by contacting either of our offices. Useful web sites for information on Turkey include;
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Source: Time Turk [in Turkish, machine trans., edited]
A total of 15 people engaged in animal fattening in the town and highlands of Kirkoy have been infected with brucellosis. A resident of the town said that many small ruminants in the town had suffered a miscarriage during the birth season and that 4 people in one family are now being treated for brucellosis. The patients had been seen at the Elazig Ataturk Research Hospital and "the doctors made the examinations and tests and as a result a brucellosis diagnosis was made. The patients were constantly sluggish and sleepy.
Currently, 15 people are receiving treatment for the same disease, "he said. Mus Provincial Health Director Serdal Turkoglu stated that 119 cases were encountered in Muay in 2019 and that the patients were treated in the hospitals in the province and that they made the necessary studies and tests on the subjects in the field. He reminded that the source of animal products should not be consumed in order to prevent the disease: "cheese, cream, butter, cream, ice cream made from pasteurized or well boiled milk should be preferred. Pickled cheeses should be consumed after waiting for at least 3 months. Frequent abortions and stillbirths should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.
The animals' wastes and the feeds that these wastes come into contact with, should be buried in sealed bags. Animals should be vaccinated against brucella," he said. -- Communicated by: ProMED-mail <email@example.com> [This infection, a bacterial zoonosis, is classified among the category B biowarfare agents. Natural transmission to humans occurs after occupational exposure or through ingestion of contaminated food products. Although brucellosis has become a rare entity in the United States and many industrialized nations because of animal vaccination programs, this condition remains a significant health problem in many developing countries.
Each species of _Brucella_ has a specific animal reservoir in which chronic disease is present. The bacilli tend to localize in the reproductive organs of the animals, causing sterility and abortions, and are shed in large numbers in the animal's urine, milk, and placental fluid. This localization allows for efficient spread to farmers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, and consumers.
Among the 4 species known to cause disease in humans, _Brucella melitensis_ (from goats, sheep, or camels) may be the most virulent, producing the most severe and acute cases of brucellosis with disabling complications. A prolonged course of illness, which may be associated with suppurative destructive lesions, is associated with _B. suis_ (from feral or commercially raised pigs) infection. _B. abortus_ (from cattle, buffalo, and camels) is associated with mild-to-moderate sporadic disease that is rarely associated with complications. - ProMED Mod.LL]
[HealthMap/ProMED map available at: Turkey:
At least seven people were killed in north-eastern Turkey's Trabzon province after heavy rainfall triggered flash floods on Tuesday. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had previously announced that four people were killed in the province's Araklı district, while three others were injured and six people were missing. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said three bodies were found in the area later on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to seven with three others unaccounted for. Trabzon Governor Ismail Ustaoğlu said search and rescue efforts had been launched by Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) units to locate the missing.
The floods hit Araklı's Çamlıktepe and Yeşilyurt neighbourhoods after a nearby stream overflowed following sudden and heavy rainfall. Firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene but had difficulty reaching the affected areas as debris brought by the floods blocked the roads. AFAD and gendarmerie units were also called in to help with the rescue efforts. The governor said the floods also destroyed four houses and offices in the district. Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak offered condolences for those that perished in the disaster and said all available resources were being made available to assist the rescue operation.
WHO also voiced concern about the increasing anti-vaccination movement in Turkey. An increasing number of groups were "misleading" the public about the effects of vaccines, harming their trust in getting vaccinated, WHO said.
Beijing, Feb 13, 2019 (AFP) - Beijing has warned its citizens in Turkey to "be more vigilant", as bilateral tensions rise after strong Turkish criticism of China's treatment of its minority Uighur community. Nearly one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities are being held in extrajudicial detention in camps in Xinjiang, according to a UN panel of experts, where most of China's more than 10 million Uighurs live.
Beijing has admitted to placing people in "vocational education centres" to prevent radical Islamism. Critics however allege Uighurs in the camps are being brainwashed in a massive campaign to enforce conformity with Chinese society and abandon Islam. The northwestern Xinjiang region -- home to some 10 million Uighurs -- has long suffered from violent unrest, which China claims is orchestrated by an organised "terrorist" movement seeking the region's independence.
Turkey, which has its own significant Uighur population, said on Saturday China's treatment of the Uighurs was "a great embarrassment for humanity". It also called on the international community and the UN "to take effective steps to end the human tragedy in Xinjiang region". China's embassy to Turkey wrote on its website: "We call once more on Chinese citizens in Turkey and Chinese tourists going to Turkey to be more vigilant and pay attention to their personal security as well as the security of their belongings."
The warning was posted on Sunday, the day after the declarations by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Violent anti-China protests against the county's treatment of the Uighurs have previously broken out in Turkey. In 2015, militant Turkish nationalists burnt a Chinese flag in front of China's embassy in Ankara. A popular Chinese restaurant in Istanbul also had its windows smashed and a group of South Korean tourists who were visiting the city was attacked because they were mistaken for Chinese.
World Travel News Headlines
Communication from a medical colleague based in Kathmandu
Dear friends, I would like to alert you to a dengue outbreak in Nepal including in Kathmandu. It started in May 2019 in eastern Nepal but has come to Kathmandu in a big way in the past 2 weeks or so. Government figures (http://www.edcd.com.np/) indicates total of 5095 cases in Nepal including 1170 cases from Kathmandu. The government figures underestimate the problem due to underreporting issues. Kathmandu hospitals seem stretched to capacity due to dengue visits and admissions.
This problem is new to Kathmandu as we have had only sporadic cases of dengue in previous years. The public in Kathmandu has never taken mosquito bites seriously since we have not had major vector borne diseases in the past. We hope that the current dengue outbreak has peaked and will slow down once we get cooler nights from end September - early October.
If you have travellers coming this way, please alert them to this and send them with insect repellents and information on mosquito protection measures. DEET is not readily available and other repellent supplies have been depleted.
Dr. Prativa Pandey
CIWEC Hospital I Travel Medicine Center
+977 98510-36742 I
By Kyoko HASEGAWA
Tokyo, Sept 9, 2019 (AFP) - A powerful typhoon that battered Tokyo overnight with record winds killed two people, police said Monday, as cancelled trains caused commuter chaos and more than 100 flights were scrapped, leaving thousands stranded at the airport. Typhoon Faxai, packing winds of up to 207 kilometres (129 miles) per hour, made landfall in Chiba just east of the capital before dawn, after barrelling through Tokyo Bay. The transport disruptions unleashed by the storm came less than two weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup, and delayed the arrival of the Australian team -- a reminder that Japan's typhoon season could present challenges for organisers.
Police confirmed two people were killed in the storm -- a woman in her fifties who was found dead in Tokyo and an elderly man in the neighbouring Chiba prefecture. Security camera footage showed that high winds pushed her across a street and into a wall, while the 87-year-old man was found dead in the woods under a fallen tree. The storm injured more than 30 people, including a woman who sustained serious injuries after gusts toppled a protective netting structure at a golf driving range onto nearby houses. Non-compulsory evacuation orders were issued to hundreds of thousands and authorities said more than 2,000 people had taken refuge in shelters at one point.
- Commuters stranded -
The strong winds downed trees and power lines. Nearly 760,000 households were still without electricity in the Tokyo area Monday evening. Scaffolding was ripped from buildings and protective sheeting hung to keep construction debris off the streets was crumpled and torn by the storm.
While the damage was relatively light given the wind speeds, it was enough to cause chaos in the capital's notoriously busy morning commute. The overland East Japan Railway train system was largely halted in the early hours of operation while tracks were checked for fallen trees and other debris. The storm also caused delays and stoppages on subway lines, leading to massive crowds at some stations in the busy metropolitan area that is home to 36 million people.
Bullet train services that were suspended during the storm had largely resumed, though some were operating on a reduced schedule. Some roads were blocked by downed trees. And trains running to and from Narita International Airport were halted, with buses and taxis the only options left to those arriving or hoping to fly out. Thousands of people were stranded at the airport Monday evening, with officials preparing to distribute blankets and food.
- Wallabies arrival delayed -
At least 138 domestic flights were cancelled, with the weather even delaying the arrival of the Wallabies in Tokyo on Monday ahead of the World Cup that kicks off on September 20. The French team managed to sneak in just ahead of the typhoon and reach their training camp near Mount Fuji.
By mid-Monday morning, the storm had moved back offshore and was headed northeast away from Japan, back into the Pacific. The weather agency warned that landslides were still possible in Chiba as well as the northern Fukushima region as the storm headed away from land. Japan is used to severe tropical storms and typhoons during late summer and autumn. Strong typhoon Krosa lashed western Japan in mid-August, bringing strong winds and torrential rain that claimed one life. And in late August, heavy rains left three people dead when massive floods also hit western Japan.
But this year, the typhoon season coincides with the Rugby World Cup, presenting a possible headache for teams and organisers. Tournament rules say that if a pool match has to be scrapped due to extreme weather, it is classed as a draw, which could have a major impact on what is set to be a very close competition. Nicholas van Santen, a spokesman for Rugby World Cup organisers, said they were working closely with the teams to minimise any disruption to their training schedules. "In the days and hours leading up to the typhoon making landfall, the organising committee monitored the situation closely with the tournament's weather information provider and the relevant authorities," said Van Santen.
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 9, 2019 (AFP) - Malaysia prepared to seed clouds after air quality in parts of the country reached unhealthy levels due to smog from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia, an official said Monday. Smog regularly blankets parts of Southeast Asia during the dry season when burning is used to clear Indonesian land for palm oil, paper plantations and other crops, sparking ire from regional neighbours. In the latest outbreak, parts of Malaysia's eastern state of Sarawak on Borneo island have been blanketed over the past few days.
The pollutant index in some places has reached "very unhealthy levels", said Gary Theseira, special functions officer with the environment ministry. "It is extremely severe in Kuching," Theseira told AFP, referring to a city of half a million people. He said Malaysia is prepared to carry out cloud seeding to induce rain in an effort to ease the smog. "The moment the cloud situation is right, the chemicals will be loaded and the aircraft will take off and proceed with the seeding," he said.
Some countries conduct seeding during prolonged dry spells to induce rain and clear the air by releasing certain chemicals into the clouds, although some experts have questioned its efficacy. Boo Siang Voon, a 47 year-old engineer in Kuching described the skies as "hazy, hot with smoky smell". "This year the smog is getting worse. Residents are using face masks. We should not pay the price of our health for the open burning. We want a solution," he told AFP. The Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring Singapore were also experiencing hazy conditions on Monday, with the air laced with the smell of burning foliage, although the pollutant index remained at moderate levels. Some Kuala Lumpur residents complained about eye and throat irritation.
Malaysia's meteorological department Sunday warned that hot conditions will prevail for another week, and the monsoon season is only expected to arrive at the end of September or early October. The ministry of science, technology and innovation on Friday said it would lodge a complaint with Indonesia for the haze and called for quick action to be taken to put out the fires. Indonesian authorities have deployed thousands of extra personnel since last month to prevent a repeat of the 2015 fires, which were the worst for two decades and choked the region in haze for weeks. Under pressure from neighbours, Indonesian leader Joko Widodo last month warned that officials would be sacked if they failed to stamp out forest fires.
Paris, Sept 9, 2019 (AFP) - Some 13,000 passengers, mainly booked on flights to and from Algeria, are still stranded after France's second-largest airline Aigle Azur went into receivership, a senior French official said Monday, adding that several potential buyers had been identified. The airline, which employs almost 1,200 staff, filed for bankruptcy and suspended flights last week after losses which prompted a shareholder coup that ousted the chief executive. "Out of 19,000 passengers who found themselves in difficulty at the peak of the crisis, there are still 13,000" who have yet to be repatriated, the secretary of state for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told the Le Parisien daily.
He said these included 11,000 passengers booked on flights into and out of Algeria, 600 on Mali flights as well as other destinations ranging from Russia to Lebanon. Air France chartered two special flights on Saturday and then again on Sunday to help passengers booked on Algeria flights, which flew out one quarter full but were full on the return. "The hardest moment of the crisis will be over before the end of the week. At least half the passengers (affected) will have been repatriated," Djebbari said.
The airline transported last year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations that brought in 300 million euros ($329 million) of revenue. "There needs to be a serious buyer who is capable of offering guarantees for a maximum number of employees. The good news is that many (potential buyers) have expressed interest," said Djebbari.
He said the former chief executive of Air France's subsidiary Hop!, Lionel Guerin, was among interested parties, backed by a team of aviation professionals with financial support. He added that Air France itself also appeared interested in making an offer. "This shows there is still an interest in Aigle Azur," he added. Neither party has so far publicly confirmed an interest, with Air France declining to comment on an "evolving" situation.
According to union officials, Air France could be interested in the medium-haul routes to Algeria and the Dubreuil group, the majority shareholder in Air Caraibes, the long haul routes to destinations like Brazil and Mali. The largest shareholder in Aigle Azur is the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, with a 49-percent stake. David Neeleman, an American airline entrepreneur whose companies include JetBlue and TAP Air Portugal, owns 32 percent, and French businessman Gerard Houa owns 19 percent.
By Roland JACKSON
London, Sept 9, 2019 (AFP) - British Airways on Monday cancelled almost all flights departing and arriving into the UK, as the airline's first-ever pilots' strike began, sparking travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers. The industrial action over pay on Monday and Tuesday by members of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) trade union follows around nine months of failed talks. On the first day of the strike, some 145,000 passengers are facing cancelled international and domestic flights mainly at London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
The carrier, owned by London-listed International Airlines Group (IAG) and which operates about 850 flights per day in Britain, said it had no option but to cancel nearly all scheduled flights. "Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100 percent of our flights," British Airways said in a statement. The airline stressed that it remained willing to return to talks but the union -- which is seeking a bigger share of company profits -- accuses BA for not wanting to negotiate.
- Customer frustration -
"We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA's strike action has caused our customers," BA added. "After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this." BA and its 4,300 pilots have been locked in a long-running pay dispute that could disrupt the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people in total over the two days.
Pilots are also threatening to strike for one more day on September 27 -- and then possibly again closer to the winter holidays -- should the dispute drag on. BALPA has rejected a pay increase of 11.5 percent over three years that the airline proposed in July. BA says the offer would see flight captains receive "world-class" pay and benefits of around £200,000 ($246,000 or 220,000 euros) a year. The airline pointed out also that two other unions representing 90 percent of the airlines' workers have accepted the 11.5-percent raise. BALPA counters that co-pilots' salaries average around £70,000 -- and that of junior ones drops down to just £26,000. This leaves some in heavy debt since they must first undergo training that the BBC estimates costs around £100,000.
- BA 'not budging' -
BALPA boss Brian Strutton also apologised for the travel chaos -- but defended the historic industrial action and blamed the company for failing to negotiate. "We are very sorry for all the disruption that's been caused by the industrial action," he told BBC Radio 4. "I think British Airways took the decision some weeks ago that they would close down the airline operation and it's up to them to do things that way. "They could have made alternative plans. That's caused a lot of disruption for passengers," Strutton added. The union had sought a profit-sharing scheme that would apply to all BA employees -- but Strutton said BA had "point blank refused" to consider the proposal. BALPA pointed to a nearly 10-percent jump in pre-tax profits reported by BA-parent IAG last year. "What the pilots have asked for is to have a share of the success of British Airways," Strutton said. "We are prepared to negotiate. We are prepared to move on our position, but so far British Airways has said to me: 'We are not going to budge'. And that's the problem."
Seoul, Sept 8, 2019 (AFP) - North Korean state media said Sunday five people had been killed in a powerful typhoon that destroyed farmland and damaged hundreds of buildings. Typhoon Lingling, called Typhoon-13 in North Korea, hit the reclusive nuclear-armed state on Saturday afternoon, reported the official KCNA news service.
The impoverished and isolated country is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due in part to deforestation and poor infrastructure. "According to data available from the State Emergency Disaster Committee, five persons were dead and three persons injured. The injured persons are now under treatment at hospitals," KCNA said. More than 460 houses and at least a dozen public buildings were "completely or partly destroyed or inundated" by the typhoon, it said.
Crops were wiped out or damaged in 46,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of farmland -- roughly the area of the small European country of Andorra -- the report said, adding that recovery efforts were underway. It came after South Korea's disaster agency reported three deaths caused by the same typhoon, according to Yonhap news agency. On Saturday, KCNA reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had berated officials for their "easygoing" attitude to the approaching storm. According to that dispatch, Kim had convened an emergency meeting on Friday and said "dangerous circumstances" caused by the typhoon were "imminent", but that many in positions of authority were ill-prepared.
By Ashraf KHAN
Karachi, Sept 7, 2019 (AFP) - Swarms of flies are descending on Pakistan's commercial capital in what residents say are record numbers this rainy season, adding to the misery of Karachi's monsoon "hell". Heavy rains have inundated the sprawling port city of nearly 20 million people for weeks, overwhelming shoddy drainage systems clogged with mountains of uncollected garbage and flooding neighbourhoods with raw sewage. "I have never seen such a fierce presence of flies in my life," Karachi resident Abdul Aziz, 45, told AFP. "Clouds of flies keep covering the food at the market. It's repulsive -- they cover the fruit so much that you can't see beneath them."
At a market in Surjani town, meat trader Zahid Ali looked on as flies engulfed the area. "If the customers come, they impulsively leave after seeing the swarms of flies," said Ali, adding that an increasing number of people working in the market had fallen ill. Shershah Syed, a health rights activist and prominent surgeon in Karachi, said many illnesses were on the rise because of flies and mosquitoes. "This time (the flies are) the worst ever as rain water is unable to drain and the garbage heaps are not dealt with," Syed said. "The number of children entering hospitals for diarrhea or dysentery has jumped several fold this year. The number of children -- who are the most vulnerable to the fly-borne diseases -- has increased by about 10 times."
While Karachi is responsible for 60 percent of Pakistan's economic output, the city has long endured creaky infrastructure, illegal construction and failing municipal services. This week, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Karachi as one of the least liveable cities in the world along with the likes of war-torn Libya's Tripoli and the crisis-hit Venezuelan capital Caracas. "People in Karachi are numb to the idea of living with medical waste, overflowing gutters, broken down roads, and a complete lack of any kind of respectable public transport system," wrote Saadat Ali Zia on Twitter. "We live in hell," tweeted Farooq Afridi.
Mumbai, Sept 5, 2019 (AFP) - A six-year-old boy was among four people killed after severe flooding hit India's financial hub Mumbai, resulting in dozens of cancelled or delayed flights, officials said Thursday. Mumbai -- home to 20 million people -- has been hit by torrential downpours over the past two months amid the annual monsoon deluge. Non-stop rain over several hours on Wednesday paralysed traffic, halted trains and delayed airport operations at the western city. "We recovered a six-year-old boy Abubakar's body from the drains after yesterday's flooding," Mumbai police official Shashikant Awghade told AFP on Thursday. Awghade said the child fell into a drain during the deluge on Wednesday. His parents searched for him through the night, but his body was only found by police early Thursday.
Two municipal officers died after "falling in rainwater" and another man drowned in a river on Wednesday, the city's disaster management cell spokesman Tanaji Kamble told AFP. Residents spoke of being trapped in traffic for several hours amid chaotic scenes. "It was a nightmare and the entire city came to a standstill," chartered accountant Kevin Gogri told AFP. Maharashtra state government minister Ashish Shelar said schools would be closed on Thursday "as a precautionary measure". Many office workers stayed at home amid warnings of heavy rain from the meteorological department, although conditions eased later in the day.