September 2, 2008
Kuwait is a small, oil-rich constitutional monarchy with 10% of proven world oil reserves. Foreign workers constitute approximately 90% of the labor force. Kuwaiti
Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Kuwait. U.S. citizens can obtain visitor visas for a fee at the port of entry in Kuwait. Travelers who overstay their visas may be required to pay large fines before leaving Kuwait. Travelers who leave Kuwait without completing Kuwaiti exit procedures may also be required to pay large fines if they return to and attempt to depart from Kuwait. This includes travelers proceeding via Kuwait to and from Iraq and Afghanistan. Effective May 15, 2007, the Government of Kuwait no longer admits travelers with a contractor identification card. All contractors entering or transiting the State of Kuwait should have a valid passport. Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Kuwait for a fee of 3 Kuwaiti Dinar (KD). For further information on entry and exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Kuwait at 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 966-0702, or the Kuwaiti Consulate in New York City, telephone (212) 973-4318.
Kuwaiti officials are extremely sensitive about travel to Iraq. There have been instances in which Americans, especially those of Iraqi descent, have been detained for questioning at ports of entry/exit. Americans seeking to travel to Iraq through Kuwait have also on occasion been turned around and/or detained. On a number of occasions the border between Iraq and Kuwait has been closed without notice, stranding Americans on either side of the border.
Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, including Americans, who have been charged with criminal offenses, placed under investigation, or involved in unresolved financial disputes with local business partners are subject to travel bans. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving Kuwait for any reason until the matter is resolved. Travel bans can be initiated by any person for almost any reason and may remain in place for a substantial period of time while the case is being investigated. Expatriates have been detained in Kuwait for cases with seemingly little or no evidence or legal merit. A person who has influence with the Kuwaiti government can ensure that a travel ban remains in place even if a judge or government official states the ban should be lifted. In the case of purely financial disputes, it may be possible to depart the country if a local sponsor pledges funds equal to the amount in dispute. Once such legal orders are in place, the U.S. Embassy can assist American citizens in obtaining legal representation, but cannot overcome the ban on exit from the country until the matter is resolved.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Americans in Kuwait should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of further terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, specifically in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Americans considering travel to Kuwait should review the Worldwide Caution.
All U.S. citizens in Kuwait should exercise caution, maintain a low profile, and avoid areas where Westerners are known to congregate. Heightened security awareness should be exercised at all hotels and residential complexes, as terrorists in the past have specifically targeted hotel chains perceived as Western along with a variety of Western housing facilities. Military members, as well as civilians and contractors related to military interests, are also potential targets.
Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnappings and assassinations. Increased security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas and apartment complexes, schools and places of worship, oil-related facilities and personnel, and public areas where people congregate including restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas. U.S. citizens are advised to immediately report any unusual or suspicious activity in Kuwait to the Kuwaiti police or to the U.S. Embassy.
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 U.S. Embassy in Kuwait has an active warden program and records warden notices in both English and Arabic for audio playback. The English-language notices can be heard by calling +965-259-1048; Arabic-language notices are available at +965-259-1049.
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own 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.
Additional information regarding security and crime in Kuwait can be found in the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s Crime and Safety Report.
This document can be found at www.osac.gov.
CRIME: The crime threat in Kuwait is assessed as low. Violent crimes against expatriates are rare, but do occur. The U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to take the same security precautions in Kuwait that one would practice in the United States or any other large city abroad. Physical and verbal harassment of women are continuing problems. The Kuwaiti police accept crime reports at the police station with jurisdiction where the crime occurred. If filing a crime report, it is advisable that an American citizen be accompanied by a person who speaks Arabic or a local attorney. The Embassy’s List of Attorneys is available on the Embassy web site at http://kuwait.usembassy.gov/attorneys.html. Filing a crime report can take several hours as a police investigator will take the victim’s statement orally while composing his investigative report. In all cases of abuse, the victim must obtain a medical report from a Kuwaiti hospital in order to file a police report.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.
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 local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist 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.
The local equivalent of the “911” emergency line in Kuwait is “777” and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The quality and range of services provided by the emergency line are not equivalent to those provided in the U.S. and response times may vary greatly depending on the time of day and the location of the emergency.
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: The health care system continues to develop, with many government and private medical facilities available in Kuwait. Medical care at government-run clinics and hospitals is provided at low cost to residents of Kuwait. Private physicians and hospitals charge fees for services, and some do not accept local health insurance. Many hospital and clinic services do not compare to U.S. standards, and staff often have no U.S. experience or training. For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.
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.
The government of Kuwait has strict regulations regarding certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.
Medical examinations are required for all residency applications and any applicants who are found positive for these restricted diseases will be asked to leave the country immediately and will be permanently barred from re-entry.
Please inquire directly with the Embassy of Kuwait at http://www.embassy.org/embassies/kw.html before you travel.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Kuwait is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Kuwait is hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive and modern system of well-lit roads, excessive speeding on both primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high density of vehicles (one vehicle for every 2.8 residents), leads to frequent and often fatal accidents. In 2006, the government of Kuwait reported 60410 vehicular accidents with 460 deaths and 9100 serious injuries.
However, these numbers are approximations and the actual numbers are believed to be much higher.
The average age of death was between 21 and 30 years. There are now over one million motor vehicles registered in Kuwait. Incidents of road rage, inattention and distraction on the part of drivers, poor driving skills, and highway brinksmanship are common in Kuwait, and can be unsettling to Western drivers in Kuwait who are accustomed to more rigid adherence to traffic laws.
The government-owned Kuwait Public Transportation Company operates bus services throughout the Kuwait City metropolitan area on 50 different routes, which are widely used by the low-income expatriate labor force. Taxis are available at major hotels and pick up passengers at other locations upon telephonic request. Unaccompanied women should not use taxis after dark. It is now possible to hail taxis on streets. Taxis have meters, but fares are more commonly negotiated.
Visitors can use international driving permits issued by their respective countries within the time limit of their visas; however, the visitor must also have liability insurance. It is illegal to drive in Kuwait without a license and car registration documents. If you are stopped and cannot produce them, you may be taken to a police station and held until they are presented on your behalf.
The Government of Kuwait may provide American citizens with a Kuwaiti driver’s license if their valid American driver’s license is first certified by the American Embassy. This service costs 9 KD and is available from the American Citizens Services Unit of the Consular Section. The Embassy’s certification must be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American permit must be translated by an approved translation service. Additional information is available at the Embassy’s Consular Section.
If you are in an accident, Kuwaiti law mandates that you must remain at the scene until the police arrive. The use of front seat belts is mandatory in Kuwait. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. Parking is not allowed where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras for registering traffic violations, including speeding, are in use on Kuwaiti roads.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol (possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Kuwait) is a serious offense, which may result in fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation. Repeat traffic violations or violations of a serious nature may also result in the deportation of an expatriate offender. When a driver flashes his/her high beams in Kuwait, it is meant as a request to move your car into a slower lane to allow the driver with the flashing beams to proceed ahead.
Kuwait has one of the highest per capita rates of cellular telephone ownership in the world and using a cellular telephone while driving remains legal. Local emergency service organizations may be contacted by dialing 777. Ambulance crews do not respond as quickly as in the United States and do not often include trained paramedics.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the web site of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior at www.moi.gov.kw for information and statistics in Arabic about traffic safety and road conditions in Kuwait.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Kuwait’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
The workweek in Kuwait is Sunday through Thursday for most businesses, government offices and commercial banks.
Kuwaiti customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Kuwait of items such as firearms, religious materials, pornography, and alcohol. Alcohol, pork products, and pornography are illegal in Kuwait. Travelers with prescription medications should carry them in their original packaging or bottle, as dispensed, and carry a copy of their prescription in case customs authorities question their importation into Kuwait. Kuwaiti customs authorities screen the baggage of all travelers entering Kuwait. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, D.C. or Kuwait's Consulate in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Photographing government and public buildings, military installations and economic infrastructure, particularly that related to the oil industry, is against the law and can result in arrest, investigation, and prosecution. Also, some traditionally-dressed women find being photographed to be offensive and may complain to the local police. If photographing public scenes or persons, visitors should take care to ask permission beforehand and not to inadvertently cause offense that could lead to an official complaint to the authorities.
Humiliating a person, including a police officer or a public official, is a crime in Kuwait similar to disorderly conduct or harassment in the United States. A person charged with humiliating another is subject to police investigation and possible prosecution. Persons under investigation can be prevented from departing Kuwait. Proselytizing is prohibited for all religions except Islam.
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 Kuwaiti laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Kuwait 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 see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Kuwait are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Kuwait. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is located at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa Street, Block 6, Plot 14, Bayan, Kuwait. The mailing address is PO Box 77, Safat 13001, Kuwait. The primary telephone numbers are 965-259-1001 or 259-1002. The fax number is 965-259-1438 or 538-0282. The after-hours number is 965-538-2097. Additional information may also be obtained through the Embassy's web site at http://kuwait.usembassy.gov
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Kuwait dated January 16, 2008 to update the sections on Information for Victims of Crime and Medical Facilities and Health Information.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Kuwait City, Feb 6, 2017 (AFP) - A fire broke out Monday at a cultural centre in Kuwait that houses the Gulf state's opera house, the fire department said. The blaze started during maintenance work on the titanium roof, the department said in a statement on Twitter. It said the fire was put out and caused no injuries.
Parts of the roof were seen to be missing after the blaze but it was unclear if that was the result of the maintenance work or the fire. The centre was launched in October with a performance at the 2,000-seat opera house by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The sprawling 214,000-square-metre (2.3 million square feet) centre, located in the heart of the capital Kuwait City, cost $750 million.
[A map showing Kuwait and Iraq is available at
6. WHO: The treatment of diarrhoea, a manual for physicians and other senior health workers. 4th ed. 2005.
[Excerpted from WHO
Most swine influenza viruses (SIVs) do not cause disease in humans. However, some countries have reported cases of human infection with SIVs. Most of these human infections have been mild and the viruses have not spread further to other people. The H1N1 virus that caused the influenza pandemic in 2009-2010, thought to have originated in swine, is an example of an SIV that was able to spread easily among people and also cause disease.
India is bounded by the Himalayas in the north and extends 2000 miles southwards into the Indian Ocean, between the Bay of Bengal on the East and the Arabian Sea on the West. The cou
Most of the country is tropical or sub-tropical and subject to seasonal monsoon winds. This is especially true in the southwestern regions. * New Delhi There are three distinct seasons in New Delhi. Between mid-April to mid-July there is the hot dry season with dust storms. From mid-July to September there is a rainy season and a cooler season from October to March. * Bombay Bombay has a tropical climate and has an annual average temperature of about 270C. The hot humid season occurs in April and May. A monsoon occurs from June to September with about 70" of rainfall. A cool season extends from November to February when the temperatures can drop somewhat. * Calcutta Humidity remains high throughout most of the year. This is especially true between May to October when humidity levels of 90% are common. Most of the rainfall occurs during the monsoon season between June to October. * Madras The climate remains tropical throughout the year. December and January are relatively cool months and the heat increases rapidly from March to June. Premonsoon rains bring relief in July and the temperatures decrease slowly until the cooler season returns in November.
Safety & Security:
For most Irish travellers this will not be a major concern. However, the experience of travelling through any of the major cities is something many tourists will not forget. Taking care on Indian roads is a constantly essential activity. Parts of the country are unstable and recent earthquakes have led to disruptions to the transport infrastructure. As in many other countries travelling alone or late at night is unwise. In Kashmir tourists have been targeted and it is sensible to check you itinerary carefully before you travel throughout the country. In the northeastern part of the country (Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya) there have been sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains reported.
General Health Issues
It is essential that travellers recognise that there is a higher risk to their health while travelling in India. These risks are mainly associated with malaria and food and water borne diseases but conditions like accidents, rabies, tuberculosis and cholera are also present in many regions.
Food Borne Disease
A vegetarian diet is common throughout the country. Frequently the care taken with food preparation will be below standards usually seen in Western Europe. Work surfaces may be contaminated and food handlers may themselves infect the food before it is served. Cold foods should be avoided, where possible, and travellers should only consume hot food which has been freshly prepared. Stir fries may not reach sufficient cooking temperatures and need to be treated with great care. Shell fish and lettuce should always be avoided as they are one of the main ways food borne diseases are transmitted.
Water Borne Disease
Tap water should NOT be used for drinking or brushing teeth unless the smell of chlorine is obvious. Don’t use water from a jug in the hotel bedroom for anything except general washing. Sealed mineral water bought from your hotel should be used for all consumption and for brushing teeth.
Malaria is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. This may occur throughout India, including all the major cities. The highest risk time is during the monsoon season (May to October approximately) but there is risk throughout the year. Travellers should take care against mosquito bites and maintain their prophylactic tablets during their time in India and also for a further four weeks after leaving the country.
This viral disease is transmitted by any infected warm-blooded animal. Dogs, cats, monkeys etc are frequently involved. Travellers should avoid all contact with animals and any bite (lick or scratch) should be treated by immediately washing out the area, applying an antiseptic and then seeking urgent medical attention. India reports many thousand deaths each year from this dreadful disease.
Most short term travellers should consider vaccination cover against Poliomyelitis, Typhoid, Tetanus and Hepatitis A. Malaria tablets will also be required. For longer trips please contact the Tropical Bureau at the numbers below.
Other Health Information
A full range of information on healthy travelling overseas can be obtained from the educational department of the Tropical Medical Bureau.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
By Abhaya SRIVASTAVA
New Delhi, Feb 12, 2019 (AFP) - At least 17 people died when a fire ripped through a budget hotel in Delhi on Tuesday, with victims including a woman and a child who reportedly jumped from a window to escape the blaze. Images showed thick smoke and flames billowing out of the top floor of the Hotel Arpit Palace in a congested part of the Indian capital. Guests at the hotel, popular with budget and business travellers, were unable to use corridors to escape because of wooden panelling, according to a fire officer.
Three Myanmar citizens staying at the hotel were missing, the NDTV news network reported. Most of the residents were sleeping at the time the fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday. It is estimated some 120 people were inside the building, built around 25 years ago, according to the hotel's website. "We have confirmed with hospital authorities, the toll is now 17 including a child," Sunil Choudhary, a senior fire brigade official, told AFP.
G.C. Misra, Delhi fire services director, said the blaze had been brought under control and that 35 people were rescued by firefighters in an operation lasting several hours involving at least 25 fire engines. "There was wooden panelling on corridors because of which people could not use corridors to evacuate," another fire officer told reporters.
Police said they were investigating the cause, and a judicial probe has been ordered into the latest disaster to raise concerns over fire safety in India. The hotel is in the Karol Bagh district, a busy commercial centre criss-crossed by narrow alleys where electric wires dangle overhead. The area, which houses hundreds of hotels, shops and offices, is packed with tourists and shoppers.
- Lax regulations -
Fires are common across India because of poor safety standards and lax enforcement of regulations. Activists say builders and landlords often cut corners on safety to save costs and have accused civic authorities of negligence and apathy. "Buildings can only be constructed up to four floors in Delhi," Delhi's home minister Satyendra Jain told NDTV. "This hotel had been built up to six floors. It's gross negligence on the part of the officers who allowed the extra floors to be built. "The entire hotel has wooden panelling, this shows carelessness on the part of the owner."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "deeply saddened" by the loss of life in a statement posted on Twitter. Fire disasters are particularly frequent in Mumbai, India's financial capital where millions live in cramped and dilapidated properties because of high rents. In December, eight people were killed when a fire engulfed a hospital in Mumbai. In 2017, 14 people were killed, also in Mumbai, when a huge blaze tore through a popular restaurant.
Srinagar, India, Feb 8, 2019 (AFP) - Three policemen were rescued Friday while five other bodies were recovered from an avalanche that buried 10 people in Indian-administered Kashmir following two days of heavy snowfall, police said. The avalanche hit a fire emergency facility late Thursday in the Banihal area of the Kashmir valley. Six police, two prisoners and two other personnel had taken refuge there during a storm. Rescuers dug for hours through heavy snow to reach the trapped personnel.
The dead include two firefighters and three police, another official said, adding the search for two more police was ongoing. The three rescued policemen have been taken to hospital, senior official Baseer Khan told AFP. Two other men died in Kashmir's Ramban area after a landslide and falling stones hit them as they walked along a highway already blocked since Tuesday due to heavy rain and landslips, a police official said.
Another man died on Thursday when his home was buried under an avalanche in the southern Kukarnag area. The avalanche in Banihal came after two days of heavy snowfall that cut electricity supplies to many areas and blocked roads. More than 50 flights in and out of the main city of Srinagar were cancelled. Authorities have also started rationing petrol and diesel as supplies in the Kashmir valley are running low. Bad weather has disrupted essential supplies for two weeks. Kashmir suffers regular winter disasters.
On January 18 a massive avalanche hit a high altitude mountain pass in the remote Ladakh area, near the border with China, killing 10 people. Rescuers took a week to retrieve the bodies. Last year 11 civilians died in an avalanche at Kupwara near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Indian and Pakistan-controlled sectors. In 2017, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a series of avalanches. In 2012, a wall of snow engulfed a camp below the Siachen glacier on the Pakistani side of the territory, killing 140 people, mostly Pakistani soldiers.
World Travel News Headlines
By Amelie BARON
Port-au-Prince, Feb 21, 2019 (AFP) - With flaming barricades and widespread looting, 10 days of street violence in Haiti have all but buried a tourism industry that managed to resurrect itself after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Ugly, violent footage beamed around the world has again sent the message that this impoverished Caribbean country is politically unstable and no place to go on vacation.
The final straw was the helicopter evacuation last week of 100-odd Canadian tourists trapped as angry protesters demanded the resignation of the president, whom they accuse of corruption. "We have been through 12 days of hell. We managed the crisis but today we are suffering from the aftershocks," said Tourism Minister Marie-Christine Stephenson.
- Blacklist -
Beside the direct effects of the demonstrations, the United States delivered another crushing blow on February 14 when it urged its citizens not to travel to Haiti, which thus joined a no-go list with war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The minister said the US travel alert for Haiti was too harsh, calling the riots something that flared up unexpectedly and are now over. "OK, they lasted 12 days but I am not sure that other Caribbean countries, which have had riots of their own, have been punished as severely and quickly as we have," said Stephenson. Overnight, the decision by the US State Department hit the tourism industry hard. Travel web sites simply stopped offering flights to Haiti's two international airports. Hotels are reporting cancellation of reservations and many empty rooms.
Officials in the industry have yet to tally up the damage but say that for the second time in less than a year, they will have to lay off workers. In July of last year, three days of riots over a government attempt to raise fuel prices ruined the summer vacation season for Haiti's tourism industry. It is not just hotels that will suffer again, said Beatrice Nadal-Mevs, president of the Haitian Tourism Association. "This is going to affect everyday people because these are direct jobs that are going to be lost and supply chains will be threatened: farming, fishing, crafts, transport," Nadal-Mevs said.
- Mardi Gras cancelled -
With the opposition planning more demonstrations to seek the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, the sector got yet more bad news with word that Carnival celebrations have been called off in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. City Hall said it could not guarantee revelers' safety. The festivities, which this year were planned for March 3-5, usually draw many Haitians living abroad and fleeing the winter cold in Canada and the eastern US.
Another major Carnival celebration is scheduled to take place in the city of Gonaives, but the government has not said if it will go ahead. As grim as things are, some foreign tourists have gone ahead with visits to Haiti. On Wednesday, a group of Australians under police escort visited a square featuring statues of heros of Haiti's independence from France. Days ago, demonstrators at the same plaza were throwing rocks at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas grenades.
A woman named Carole, who did not want to give her last name, said, "I trust the company we're traveling with. They not only want to take us but they want to bring us back." Kevin McCue, another of the people in the group of 20, said he was glad that their tour operator had not opted for Plan B, which would have meant skipping Haiti and spending the whole week in the neighboring Dominican Republic. "Tourism is alive and well here. People should come. The more they come, the better they spread some money among people who need it and the better for Haiti," said McCue.
By Shafiqul ALAM
Dhaka, Feb 21, 2019 (AFP) - At least 70 people were killed when fire tore through crumbling apartment blocks in a historic part of Dhaka, setting off a chain of explosions and a wall of flames down nearby streets, officials said Thursday. It started in one building where chemicals for deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored and spread at lightning speed to four nearby buildings, the fire service said. People became trapped by the flames at a nearby bridal party and a restaurant. TV images showed the gates to one building were chained up so residents were unable to escape.
Traffic jams in the clogged narrow streets held up the rescue operation. Bangladesh fire chief Ali Ahmed said at least 70 people were killed but that the toll would likely rise. "The number of bodies may increase. The search is still going on," he told AFP. Doctors said at least 10 of the scores of injured were in critical condition. Firefighters who took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control, went through the blackened floors of the building, littered with spray cans, looking for bodies.
The fire started at about 10.40pm (1640 GMT) on Wednesday at Chawkbazar in the old Mughal part of the capital. Ahmed said it may have been started by a gas cylinder and quickly spread through the building where chemicals were stored in rooms alongside the apartments. Chemicals used for household products were also stored in the nearby buildings. They exploded as the fire spread, witnesses said. "There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape," the fire chief said. Another fire official told reporters the blaze was under control but was not extinguished despite the efforts of more than 200 firefighters. "It will take time. This is not like any other fire," he said, adding that the inferno had been made more devastating by the "highly combustible" chemicals. Fire trucks had struggled in the narrow streets to reach the scene and there was also a lack of water for the battle, officials said. The main gate of one five storey building was chained up, trapping residents inside, according to images shown on Bangladesh television.
- 'Flames were everywhere' -
Members of a bridal party in a nearby community centre were also caught in the fire and many were injured. Others were caught in small restaurants. Dhaka deputy police commissioner Ibrahim Khan said at least two cars and 10 cycle rickshaws were burned in the fire. "The victims included passersby, some people who were eating food at a restaurants and some members of the bridal party," he told AFP. "I saw the charred body of a woman who was holding her daughter in her lap as their rickshaw was caught in the fire," said one witness.
Haji Abdul Kader, whose shop was destroyed, said he only survived the blaze as as he had left to go to a pharmacy. "When I was at the pharmacy, I heard a big bang. I turned back and saw the whole street, which was jam packed with cars and rickshaws, in flames. Flames were everywhere," he told AFP. "I got burned and rushed to hospital," he said.
Doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital said at least 55 people were injured, including 10 in a critical condition. Hundreds of people rushed to the hospital looking for missing relatives. However, most of the bodies of the dead were charred beyond recognition. Sohag Hossain, one of the injured, told the Daily Star that he and two friends were working at a plastic factory in one of the buildings at the time of the fire. They heard an explosion and could not escape the flames.
A similar blaze in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire disasters in the city of 20 million people. Dhaka authorities launched a crackdown on chemical warehouses in residential areas following the blaze, but efforts to rein in the practice have waned. Many buildings in Bangladesh lack adequate fire safety measures and the enforcement of fire regulations in factories and apartment buildings is lax.
Source: El Pais in English [edited]
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of death of a 46-year-old woman, who became ill after eating at a one-star Michelin restaurant called RiFF in Valencia. A total of 23 other patrons, including the victim's husband and 12-year-old son, also fell sick after the meal but their symptoms were mild and they have reportedly all recovered. The case was confirmed by regional health chief Ana Barcela, who expressed her condolences to the family and said that an investigation was already underway. "We've conducted a primary inspection of the establishment and everything appears to be normal," she said. "Analytical tests will now be carried out on the food products."
Barcela explained that the regional public health department will be in charge of the investigation and for determining the causes behind the woman's death. According to sources from the regional health department, the food poisoning outbreak was reported on [Sun 17 Feb 2019], after the 3 family members fell ill. They began to show symptoms of food poisoning - vomiting and diarrhoea - on [Sat 16 Feb 2019]. According to Europa Press, the father and son recovered but the woman's symptoms were more severe, and she died in her home early on the following morning. The investigation into the death revealed that a total of 9 patrons had experienced illness, mainly vomiting, after eating at the same restaurant.
Subsequently, it emerged that a further 14 people had also suffered light symptoms. "17 people have been interviewed, of whom 14 stated that they had some kind of mild symptoms," explained regional health chief Ana BarcelÃ³ today, [Wed 20 Feb 2019]. "The samples that have been collected over the last few days have been sent to the National Toxicology Institute to be analyzed." Public health officials inspected the restaurant on [Mon 18 Feb 2019], but did not find any problems that could have contributed to the food poisoning. Investigators also collected samples of ingredients and raw food products that were part of the menu, and are currently analyzing them.
Barcela added that at this point she could not confirm whether the sickness had been caused by morel mushrooms that were on the restaurant's menu. "We will have to wait for the autopsy to be carried out on the woman before we can determine whether it was the ingestion of a food that directly caused her death, or whether it prompted a state that led to this fatal outcome, or if she had an existing condition," she explained on [Wed 20 Feb 2019].
Forensic teams are working to determine whether she could have been poisoned by something she ate, or whether she may have choked on her own vomit. In a statement, the owner of RiFF, Bernd H. Knaller, announced that the restaurant will remain closed until the cause of the food poisoning outbreak is determined and "activities can resume with full assurances for the staff and the patrons." The owner said he has been cooperating with the regional health department on the investigation and pointed out that the inspection "showed that the restaurant complies with all sanitary regulations." He added: "Regardless of what caused the situation, I want to convey my deep regret for what happened, and I hope all of the facts will be clarified shortly." [Byline: Cristina Vazquez]
- Report all cases of confirmed typhoid fever to the appropriate local or state health departments." - ProMED Mod.LL]
Geneva, Feb 19, 2019 (AFP) - An avalanche left four skiers injured Tuesday at a resort in the Swiss Alps where rescue operations went on after dark with police fearing people could still be trapped under the snow. The authorities held a press conference to announce the injuries, including one person seriously hurt, after local reports said up to a dozen people were engulfed by the avalanche. Police officers said that based on witness reports other skiers could still be buried and the search would continue into the night.
Swiss RTS television said the army had set up lighting to aid the 240 rescue workers at the site. The police had earlier tweeted that several people were under the avalanche that hit early afternoon on a slope 2,600 metres (8,600 feet) up at Crans-Montana, which was busy with skiers during school holidays. A local newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, had quoted the head of Crans-Montana's municipal government, Nicolas Feraud, as estimating that "between 10 and 12 people" were buried under the snow. "We are shocked and hope for good news about these people," Feraud was quoted as saying.
A first attempt at locating victims using sniffer dogs was unsuccessful, a rescue worker told Le Nouvelliste, with four helicopters joining the search from the air. Pierre Huguenin, of the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, described the snow in the area as damp and dense. According to statistics from his institute, after 15 minutes under an avalanche, the chances of survival are no more than 50 percent. Le Nouvelliste said the avalanche swept over 300 to 400 metres (yards) of the lower section of the Kandahar piste. It quoted rescue workers as saying the snow was compacted and more than two metres (seven feet) thick.
Crans-Montana's website had listed the risk of an avalanche at two on a scale that runs from one (lowest risk) to five. As the victims were on a designated ski slope, they were unlikely to have detector equipment to help rescue workers locate them. The vast majority of deadly avalanches in the Alpine nation hit people skiing off-piste. "We don't know yet whether the avalanche detached by itself or was set off by skiers, or a rockfall," Swiss avalanche expert Robert Bolognesi told the daily 20 Minutes.
Prague, Feb 20, 2019 (AFP) - Czech authorities said Wednesday they would slap checks on beef imported from Poland after veterinarians found the dangerous Salmonella bacteria in a 700-kilogramme batch of Polish beef. "Tests have shown the presence of Salmonella enteritidis, which can cause serious diarrhoea and affect human health, in beef imported from Poland on February 13," Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman told reporters.
Czech veterinary authorities have warned the European Commission and Polish authorities through a rapid warning system, he said, adding that they are also checking whether any of the meat has been consumed. "The State Veterinary Administration (SVS) will immediately adopt an extraordinary measure -- all beef imported from Poland must be tested in a lab before hitting the market," Toman added.
SVS head Zbynek Semerad said meat from the 700-kilo (1,500-pound) batch had been distributed to five "places" in the Czech Republic and one in Slovakia. "I will inform my Slovak counterpart. As far as we know, not all of the meat has been distributed to the end customer," Semerad said. The case comes on the heels of a scandal which saw Poland export a total of 2.7 tonnes of suspect beef to around a dozen fellow EU members, triggering an EU probe.
The scandal erupted in January when the TVN24 commercial news channel aired footage of apparently sick or lame cows being butchered at a small slaughterhouse in northeast Poland in secret late at night when veterinary authorities were unlikely to visit. Poland is a leading producer and exporter of meat in Europe, turning out around 600,000 tonnes of beef per year and exporting most of it mainly to the EU, according to meat producer associations.
Kuala Lumpur, Feb 20, 2019 (AFP) - Six people, including three foreigners, were killed when a fire broke out Wednesday in a Malaysian karaoke centre, with rescuers describing scenes of chaos as the blaze engulfed the building. The fire erupted before dawn on the fourth floor of an eight-storey building in the city of Ipoh, northern Perak state.
Firefighters rushed to the scene and found the bodies of six people who had died of smoke inhalation, Perak fire department acting director Sayani Saidon told AFP. "We came across two locals, two Vietnamese women and a Bangladeshi man. We are still determining the identity of the sixth person," she said.
Firefighters rescued eight people alive, including two in critical condition, she added. People inside were unable to find the way out after the fire erupted as exit lights did not come on, she said. Those that survived had run to an upper level to escape the flames. "When the fire happened, all the electricity went out, and it was dark, so the exit signs weren't clear," she said. The building was originally an office block, and had 30 karaoke rooms on the fourth and fifth floors.