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Hong Kong

Hong Kong SAR (China) US Consular Information Sheet
August 26, 2008
DESCRIPTION:
Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, has a high degree of autonomy, except in the ar
as of defense and foreign policy, and retains its own currency, laws, and border controls.
It is composed of three geographic areas: the New Territories, Kowloon Peninsula, and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong SAR is cosmopolitan and highly developed.
Tourist facilities and services are widely available.
The Hong Kong SAR Government web site provides Hong Kong Fact Sheets on a comprehensive range of subjects at http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/index.htm.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Hong Kong for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:
A passport with a minimum of one-month validity after the period of intended stay, adequate funds to cover stay without working and evidence of onward/return transportation are required.
Because many neighboring areas require six months validity remaining on the passport, U.S. citizens planning travel beyond Hong Kong should ensure that their passports are valid for at least six months from the date of their proposed entry into such areas.
A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 90 days by U.S. citizens.
An extension of stay may be granted upon application to the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department.
Visas are required to work or study in Hong Kong.
Visit the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department at http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/home.htm or the Embassy of the People's Republic of China web site at http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/ for the most current visa information.

U.S. citizens should obtain all required visas prior to departing the U.S.
Specifically, U.S. citizens wishing to travel to the PRC from Hong Kong require a PRC visa and should apply at the PRC Embassy or consulates in the U.S.
Parents whose children hold U.S. passports should be aware that the PRC Visa Office may require certified birth certificates or other U.S. documents for these children.
Persons applying in Hong Kong for PRC visas for U.S.-born children have been unable to obtain PRC visas without the certified U.S. birth certificate.
Parents should consider bringing their children’s certified birth certificates if applying for a PRC visa in Hong Kong.
Further information on travel to and around the PRC is available in our China Country Specific Sheet.

Information about the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Although there have been no terrorist incidents in Hong Kong, the Department of State reminds Americans everywhere that U.S. citizens and interests are at a heightened risk of attack by terrorists.
These individuals and groups have proven that they do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Because security awareness has been elevated within the United States, terrorists may target U.S. interests overseas.
Private Americans should be aware of the potential risks when making travel plans and should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and exercise caution.
The State Department will continue to develop information about potential threats.

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 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.
CRIME:
Hong Kong SAR has a low crime rate.
Even so, travelers should exercise caution when in congested areas and pay particular attention to personal belongings while in crowded markets and while traveling on public transportation.
Violent crime, though rare, does occur.

There have been a few reports of robberies involving the drug rohypnol, commonly known as the “date rape drug.”
Most reports have involved bar staff and/or prostitutes from bars and clubs in the popular Wanchai and Tsim Sha Tsui districts.
The drug is administered via food or drink to unwitting victims, who later awake to find all of their valuables missing.
The drug causes the victim to lose consciousness, sometimes for over 24 hours, and often induces short-term amnesia.
Travelers are advised to avoid leaving drinks or food unattended, and should not accept food or drink from strangers or new acquaintances.

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.
Hong Kong has a crime victim compensation program available to U.S. citizens who are legal residents or tourists in Hong Kong.
For more detailed information on the program and its requirements, please see the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department web page at http://www.swd.gov.hk/en/index/site_pubsvc/page_socsecu/sub_criminalan/.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Hong Kong is 999.

See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Good medical facilities are available, and there are many Western-trained physicians in Hong Kong.
Prescription drugs are widely available although may have different names than those in the U.S.
Emergency services response time is good.
Doctors and hospitals require immediate cash payment for health services and generally do not accept credit cards.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Hong Kong.

The H5N1 virus (“avian flu”) has been found in poultry and wild birds in Hong Kong.
While rare, human infection and death from H5N1 infection have been reported.
Most reported cases of human infection with H5N1 viruses have occurred after contact with H5N1-infected poultry or birds, but a small number of cases may have occurred following close and prolonged contact with another person who is visibly ill from H5N1 infection.
Further information about Avian Flu is available from the Centers for Disease Control’s Avian Flu Traveler Information web page at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentAvianFluInformation.aspx.
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 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 Hong Kong is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

About 90 percent of the population in Hong Kong depends on public transport. Taxis, buses, and the mass transit railway (MTR) are readily available, inexpensive, and generally safe. The MTR is an underground railway network and is the most popular mode of public transport, carrying an average of 2.3 million passengers a day.

In Hong Kong, traffic moves on the left. During the daytime, traffic congests Hong Kong's urban areas.
Each year, more than 19,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic accidents in Hong Kong.
Speed limits are 50 kilometers per hour in urban areas, 80 kilometers per hour on highways and 110 kilometers per hour on expressways unless otherwise marked.
The use of seat belts in vehicles, if so equipped, is mandatory both in the front and back seats.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death can be a fine of $50,000 HK ($6,500 US), imprisonment for five years and disqualification from driving for not less than two years on first conviction.
At the scene of a traffic accident, drivers are required to undergo alcohol level testing.
Any driver found exceeding the prescribed limit of blood alcohol level may face prosecution under Hong Kong law.
The use of hand-held cellular phones while driving in Hong Kong is strictly prohibited.
A breach of this law can lead to a maximum fine of $2,000 HK ($260 US).
However, motorists can use “hands-free devices,” such as headphones and speakerphones.
Hong Kong law requires that all registered vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance.

A Hong Kong driver’s license may be issued without a test to individuals who hold a valid U.S. driver’s license, provided they have resided in the United States for not less than six months. U.S. citizen visitors who do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than twelve months can drive in Hong Kong on their valid U.S. driver’s license.
Visit the website of the Hong Kong Transport Department at http://www.td.gov.hk/home/index.htm for further details.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Hong Kong’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.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
Customs Regulations:
Hong Kong SAR customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items carried while transiting Hong Kong (temporary importation or exportation) such as firearms and ammunition, counterfeit goods or illegally produced copies of copyright items, ivory, narcotics, medications, television decoders requiring a subscription, animals and plants, meat and poultry, textiles, and sensitive high technology or military products.
Travelers bringing such goods into Hong Kong without a license may be prosecuted and the goods may be seized. The penalty for trafficking in dangerous drugs can be life imprisonment and a heavy fine.
Among the other items that travelers must declare to customs officials are liquors, tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, methyl alcohol, and merchandise imported for commercial purposes.
There are no currency restrictions for travelers.

Travelers are liable to prosecution and possible detention if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any firearm or ammunition.
Unless otherwise exempted by laws, possession of an "imitation firearm" is also an offense. "Arms" means any firearm, air rifle/air gun/air pistol from which any shot, bullet or missile can be discharged with a muzzle energy greater than two joules, electric stunning device, gun/pistol or other propelling/releasing instrument from or by which a projectile containing any gas or chemical could be discharged, weapon for the discharge of any noxious liquid/gas/powder, and harpoon or spear gun. Paintball guns are included in this category.

Travelers are also liable to prosecution if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any "weapon," which includes Chinese-style throwing dart, gravity knife, gravity-operated steel baton, knuckleduster, Chinese-style fighting iron, spring-loaded steel baton, any knife the blade of which is exposed by a spring or other mechanical/electric device, and any bladed/pointed weapon.
Please note that the fact that such items may be openly for sale in mainland China does not necessarily mean that they may be brought into Hong Kong.

Please visit the website of the Hong Kong Department of Customs and Excise at http://www.customs.gov.hk/eng/content_e.html for specific information regarding Hong Kong customs requirements.

Visitors to Hong Kong should be aware that the importation into the United States of counterfeit, brand-name items, such as watches, compact discs, computer software, and clothing, is prohibited by U.S. law.

U.S. Customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes.
For additional information, please or visit the U.S. Council for International Business web site for details at http://www.uscib.org/index.asp?documentID=718.

Dogs and cats may be brought into Hong Kong only with a special permit issued in advance.
Dogs and cats imported from the United States may be exempted from quarantine when they have valid health and vaccination certificates and the pets have been in the United States for at least six months.
Additional information on importing pets is available on the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department web site at http://www.afcd.gov.hk/english/quarantine/qua_ie/qua_ie_ipab/qua_ie_ipab.html.

Please see our Customs Information.

Dual Nationality: Under PRC nationality law, persons who are of Chinese descent and who were born in the mainland of China or Hong Kong are PRC citizens.
However, under an agreement between the United States and the PRC, all U.S. citizens entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports, including such persons as may be considered PRC nationals by the PRC authorities, are considered U.S. citizens by the Hong Kong SAR authorities for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection.

Dual nationals, who are or previously were Hong Kong residents, and who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after the initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, must declare their U.S. nationality by presenting their U.S. passports to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and completing an application for declaration of change of nationality.
This declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and may also result in loss of one’s Chinese nationality (but not necessarily one’s right of abode).
Although such individuals' failure to declare U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such failure will not jeopardize their U.S. citizenship.
Dual national residents of Hong Kong who enter Hong Kong on their Hong Kong identity cards rather than their U.S. passports and who desire to guarantee U.S. consular protection should declare their U.S. nationality to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon as possible after entry.

Dual nationals contemplating onward travel to PRC should be especially attentive to use of their U.S. passports, as the PRC authorities may require them to use the same document for entry into the PRC as they used to enter Hong Kong.
The Nationality Law of the PRC does not recognize dual nationality.
U.S. citizens, including such persons as may be considered Chinese nationals by the PRC authorities, who enter and depart the PRC using a U.S. passport and a valid PRC visa retain the right of U.S. consular access and protection under the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention.
The ability of the U.S. Embassy or consulates general in the PRC to provide normal consular services would be extremely limited should a dual national enter the PRC on a non-U.S. passport.
Therefore, travelers should carefully consider whether or not to use a passport or travel document other than their U.S. passport.

For further information on consular protection and dual nationality please refer to our information on dual nationality.
Information on Hong Kong permanent residence may be obtained from the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s right of abode web page at http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/hksarvepid.htm.

Typhoons:
During the storm season (July through September), the Hong Kong Observatory issues typhoon warnings on an average of six times a year and heavy rainstorm alerts more frequently.
The Hong Kong Observatory has a good notification and monitoring system in place.
Please consult the Hong Kong Observatory web site for further information at http://www.hko.gov.hk/contente.htm.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available at the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site at http://www.fema.gov/.
Please be advised that if Typhoon Signal 8 or above or Black Rainstorm Warning is announced by the Hong Kong Government, the Consulate General will be closed.

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 Hong Kong laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Hong Kong 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 Hong Kong are encouraged to register with the U.S. Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Hong Kong.
Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Consulate.
By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
The U.S. Consulate is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong, 24-hour telephone number (852) 2523-9011.
Direct lines to American Citizen Services are (852) 2841-2211, 2841-2323, 2841-2225, fax (852) 2845-4845, email: acshk@state.gov.
The U.S. mailing address is PSC 461, Box 5, FPO, AP 96521-0006.
Please check the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong web site for current office hours at http://hongkong.usconsulate.gov/
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This replaces the Specific Information for Hong Kong dated December 3, 2007 to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Information for Victims of Crime, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Special Circumstances and Registration.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Mon 1 Apr 2019
Source: GMA News Online [abridged, edited]

The Philippine Consul in Hong Kong confirmed that of the 30 people who have been infected with measles in Hong Kong, 6 of them came from the Philippines, and of these 6, 4 are Filipinos working as household helpers.

The 5th person who got infected with measles is a Filipino but his profession was not mentioned. The 6th individual infected, on the other hand, is a foreigner who visited the Philippines.
 
The measles outbreak has prompted Hong Kong's Department of Food and Health to advise Filipinos who went on vacation in the Philippines to have themselves vaccinated against measles 1st before going back to work in Hong Kong.
 
The advisory from Hong Kong's Department of Food and Health has also been sent to overseas Filipino worker (OFW) organizations.

A dialogue among Hong Kong's Health department officials and OFW groups has been set to identify clear guidelines on how to implement the policy in light of the outbreak.

Canete said the dialogue is expected to determine whether those who have been vaccinated before would still have to get vaccinated with an anti-measles shot, and who should pay for the anti-measles vaccine of household service workers.  [Byline: Llanesca T. Panti]
===========================
[HealthMap/ProMED map of Hong Kong:
Date: Thu 14 March 2019
Source: South China Morning Post [abridged, edited]

Health authorities seek passengers on Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Tokyo flight [1 Mar 2019] after a man [said to be a Cathay Pacific flight attendant] contracted measles, a contagious disease. The man tested positive for the immunoglobulin M antibody that confirms a measles infection. He was admitted to St Paul's Hospital in Causeway Bay after he returned to Hong Kong. He was later declared to be in a stable condition and discharged.

This is the 11th case of measles confirmed in city this year [2019] with at least 7 infections imported. Authorities seek passengers on the Cathay Pacific flight who might have had contact with the 23 year old man.  [byline: Danny Mok]
==================
[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Hong Kong:
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 06:17:47 +0100

Hong Kong, Jan 22, 2019 (AFP) - A hotel employee arrested after a window she was cleaning fell onto a busy Hong Kong street and killed a tourist was released on bail Tuesday as investigators try to work out what caused the fatal tragedy.   Police said a 24-year-old female tourist from the Chinese mainland was struck by the window which fell from the 16th floor of the Mira Hotel in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district on Monday. She was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save her. A male friend was also struck by the window but escaped with only light injuries.

Police arrested a hotel cleaner under a law against allowing objects to fall from buildings and endanger or harm the public.   The accident sparked alarm that a window could possibly fall from the outside of a modern hotel building in a city stacked with skyscrapers.   A police spokesperson told AFP that the woman was released on bail Tuesday pending further enquiries and is required to report back in early February.

Local police officer Chan Ka-ying told reporters on Monday that the hotel windows could only be opened by staff with a special key.    "We believe that the cleaner tried to open the window, and the window immediately fell after she opened it," she said.   The Mira Hotel made headlines in 2013 when it was chosen by whistleblower Edward Snowden as his bolthole in Hong Kong after he fled the United States carrying a trove of information on government surveillance.   The hotel did not respond to an AFP request for comment but local media said it had vowed to cooperate with authorities.
Date: Mon 19 Nov 2018
Source: Coconuts Hong Kong [edited]

We had patient zero; now authorities have another. Just a few months after Hong Kong discovered the world's 1st-known case of a strain of hepatitis E passing from rats to humans, a 2nd such infection has been found.

According to <on.cc>, the 2nd case involves an elderly female patient who was living in Choi Hung, in the same area as the 1st patient but not in the same housing estate. She was sent to Kwong Wah Hospital for treatment earlier in 2018 where it was initially thought she was suffering from either rheumatism or an immune deficiency. She was later diagnosed with hepatitis E in May 2018, and was discharged from the hospital.

The University of Hong Kong's department of microbiology, who were following up on the 1st case in September 2018, traced serum samples from patients diagnosed with hepatitis E in the past few years, and found that the female patient's sample matched that of the male from September [2018]. Like the 1st case, doctors believe that the strain contracted by the woman also originated in rats.

The September [2018] case -- which involved a 56 year old male liver transplant patient who lived near a rat-infested refuse room on Choi Wan Estate -- was believed to be the 1st of its kind in the world. It was previously thought that hepatitis E could not jump from rats to humans. No longer.
Date: Thu 8 Nov 2018
Source: Ejinsight [edited]

The Department of Health's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has launched an investigation into a case of severe enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection involving a primary school student. At the same time, the CHP urged the public and institutions to observe strict personal and environmental hygiene following the outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) at a primary school in Tuen Mun.

The EV71 patient, an 11-year-old boy with good past health, had been having a fever, coughing, and a runny nose since [10 Oct 2018] before he was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital on [3 Nov 2018], the CHP said.  He developed convulsion and upper-limb weakness on [4 Nov 2018] and was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit on the same day. The CHP said he remained in critical condition. The patient's rectal swab specimen tested positive for EV71 upon laboratory testing. The clinical diagnoses were EV71 infection and encephalomyelitis.

Initial inquiries found that the boy had no travel history during the incubation period. His father showed symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection recently, although he is now in a stable condition. The boy's other home contacts have remained asymptomatic.  The CHP's investigations revealed that there is an HFMD outbreak at Po Leung Kuk Fong Wong Kam Chuen Primary School in Tuen Mun, where the boy attended. At least 8 boys, aged 11 to 12, have developed HFMD symptoms since [28 Oct 2018]. They all received medical attention and needed no hospitalization. They are now in stable condition.

Upon the CHP's recommendation, the school suspended classes for Primary 5 and 6 students from Thursday [8 Nov] to 21 Nov [2018], according to the school's website. The school has been placed under medical surveillance.  A spokesman for the CHP said EV71 is one of the causative agents for HFMD, and the infection can be transmitted from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of the infected. There have been 48 recorded cases of EV71 infection, including 3 with severe complications, in Hong Kong this year [2018], compared with 38 (2 with severe complications) last year [2017], according to official data.

The spokesman said although the usual peak season for HFMD and EV71 infection is from May to July, a smaller peak may also occur from October to December.  As young children are more susceptible, parents should be mindful of their health and physical condition, the spokesman said, adding that "institutional outbreaks may occur where HFMD can easily spread among young children with close contact."
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[Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) is a common disease in children caused by enteroviruses such as coxsackieviruses and enterovirus 71 (EV71). The EV71 infection is of particular concern, as it more likely associates with severe outcomes (like viral meningitis, encephalitis, poliomyelitis-like paralysis) and even death. The usual peak season for HFMD in Hong Kong is from early summer to autumn, and a smaller peak may also occur in winter  [<https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/23.html>].

During the recent outbreak, according to the EV surveillance data from Centre for Health Protection (CHP), a total of 367 cases have been reported as of 8 Nov 2018, with 48 cases confirmed due to EV71 [<https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/evbdo_evscan_2018_week_45_eng.pdf>]. The disease is most contagious during the 1st week of the illness, and the viruses can be found in stool for weeks. It mainly spreads by contact with nose or throat discharges, saliva, fluid from vesicles, or patients' stool, or after touching contaminated objects. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map:
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World Travel News Headlines

Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2019 13:01:09 +0200
By Ron LOPEZ

Porac, Philippines, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - Philippine rescuers raced Tuesday to reach some two dozen people still feared buried under a building near Manila that collapsed a day earlier in a deadly earthquake, as a powerful second tremor hit the nation.   The US Geological Survey put the second quake -- on the central island of Samar -- at 6.4 magnitude, stronger than the one that wrought significant damage Monday near the capital in the north.

The latest quake sent terrified locals fleeing into the streets, with images on social media showing cracked roads, crumbling church walls and shattered glass.   "No one started crying, but of course some panicked because it was really strong," said Rey Estrobo, a supervisor at a hotel in Borongan town, near the epicentre.   At the same time, the toll in Monday's quake rose to 16, with most of the fatalities in the worst-hit northern province of Pampanga, national disaster officials said.   More than 100 others were injured by falling rubble on Monday, including in Manila, according to police.

However, initial reports indicated relatively minor destruction in Samar given the strength of Tuesday's quake, which could be down to differences in ground composition.   "The damage is more pronounced if the houses and buildings are built on a foundation of soft soil," seismologist Myla Advincula told AFP, referring to Pampanga's soft sediment. "It enhances the shaking effect."

Scores of rescuers in the northern town of Porac spent Tuesday using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-storey market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for.   "Every minute, every second is critical in this rescue," Cris Palcis, a volunteer rescue dog handler, told AFP. "Time is short for the people under the rubble so we have to be quick."

Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda told journalists that rescuers could still hear at least one person trapped beneath the rubble, but the digging was proceeding delicately to avoid accidentally crushing the survivor.   Rogelio Pacelo was shopping with his wife and child when the market building collapsed around them, but they incredibly made it out almost without a scratch.   "I thought this only happens in movies. I thought that was the end of the world, it's our end," he told journalists. "I looked for a way out."   The quake also damaged several centuries-old churches which were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the majority-Catholic Philippines marked the Easter holiday.

- 'Ring of Fire' -
Father Roland Moraleja, who is based in Porac, said the 18th-century belfry of the Saint Catherine of Alexandria church collapsed in the quake.   "It was the only part left from the old church," he told AFP. "The historical value is now gone, but we are hopeful that it will rise again."   High-rise buildings in the capital swayed after the tremor struck Monday evening, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.

Thousands of travellers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour's drive north of the capital.   It was still closed on Tuesday as officials assessed the heavy damage to the terminal building and some cracking on the air traffic control tower.

The quake was centred on the town of Castillejos, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of Manila, local geologists said.   Seismologists put Monday's tremor at 6.3 initially, but subsequently downgraded it to a 6.1 magnitude.   The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2019 10:08:27 +0200

Johannesburg, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - At least five people died early Tuesday in South Africa's coastal city of Durban after torrential rains triggered mudslides that crushed homes, emergency services said.   Among those killed were a six-month-old baby, a child of about 10 and two adults.   "Torrential rains damaged peoples houses (and) there were mudslides," Garrith Jamieson, spokesman for Rescue Care, told AFP.

"I can confirm five (deaths) but there are many more casualties," he said, adding there were unconfirmed reports of "multiple" deaths in other parts of the KwaZulu-Natal province.   Victims were either crushed to death by the mudslides or drowned in flood waters.   It was not immediately clear how many people were missing, but search and rescue operations continued on Tuesday.

Downpours have caused flooding in the southern and eastern parts of the country.   The military has been dispatched to help in rescue and evacuation efforts in some of the affected areas.   The South African Weather Services warned that more heavy rain was expected until Wednesday which could lead to more flooding and pose a threat to low-lying bridges and roads.
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2019 06:03:52 +0200

Colombo, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - The toll from a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said Tuesday.   Around 500 people were wounded in the blasts, Ruwan Gunasekera said in a statement.   He added that 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks, which Sri Lanka's government has blamed on a previously little-known local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath.
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2019 06:22:23 +0200

Melbourne, April 22, 2019 (AFP) - A father and son lifesaving team drowned while trying to save a tourist swept out to sea near one of Australia's most famous sights off the south coast, officials said Monday.   Ross Powell, 71, and his son Andrew, 32, died on Sunday after their lifesaving boat overturned in the surf during the rescue of a 30-year-old man near the Twelve Apostles, a set of 12 limestone stacks off the Victoria state coast.

The tourist, whose nationality or name has not been released, had been wading at the mouth of a river when he got into trouble.   He was winched from the water alongside a third lifesaver from the boat, who was seriously injured, by a rescue helicopter and taken to hospital, Victoria Police said. The bodies of the Campbells were found in the water shortly after.   The tragedy has rocked the small tourist town of Port Campbell where the two men came from, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison leading the tributes.   "Surf lifesavers are selfless & brave. We thank them all for their service & extend our deepest sympathies to Ross & Andrew's family & friends," Morrison tweeted Monday.

Surf Lifesaving Victoria president Paul James hailed the pair as heroes, and said the conditions had been rough and "not the place to be swimming".   "It's just terrible, it's heart-breaking," he told reporters in an emotional press conference of the death of the dairy farmers and experienced volunteer lifesavers.   "I understand the boat was operating in a two-metre (6.5 feet) swell, so a very high swell, and we know that it is very treacherous down there... These brave people, these heroes, have gone out to try and help."   Amber Griffiths, the partner of Andrew Campbell and who local media reported was pregnant with their second child, wrote about her heartbreak on Facebook.   "Today we lost two of the most beautiful people to ever exist -- always putting others first," she wrote.   "The love of my life, light of my life, father of my baby girl. My heart is broken. I miss you Andrew Powell."

Australia's beaches are among the island continent's biggest tourist drawcards, but can have strong rips and tides. Swimmers are advised to keep between areas bounded by flags and patrolled by lifesavers.   The area where the tourist was rescued is near high cliffs and said to have wild and treacherous seas.   The Twelve Apostles are giant rock stacks of varying heights in the Southern Ocean which began forming 20 million years ago when erosion gradually began whittling away the limestone cliffs of Port Campbell.
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2019 01:55:28 +0200

Montreal, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Flooding in eastern Canada forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people while over 600 troops have been deployed in response, authorities said Sunday.   Warming weather over the Easter weekend has brought spring floods due to heavy rains and snowmelt from Ontario to southern Quebec and New Brunswick.

Authorities, who initially feared a repeat of catastrophic 2017 floods in Quebec, the worst in half a century, appeared more confident about the situation on Sunday.   "We are optimistic about the coming days," civil security spokesman Eric Houde told AFP.   "There will be significant floods but overall not at the level of 2017, except in certain areas like Lake St Pierre," a widening of the St Lawrence River in Quebec, he added.   "The big difference from 2017 is the level of preparation of municipalities and citizens."

Over the past several days, towns have mobilized volunteers and distributed hundreds of thousands of sandbags to erect barriers or protect houses in threatened areas.   The areas most affected were around Ottawa, and Beauce, a region south of Quebec City where nearly 800 people were evacuated. More than 1,200 homes had been affected by the flooding in Quebec by late Sunday.

The provincial governments of Quebec and New Brunswick asked for reinforcements from the military.    About 200 soldiers had deployed in Quebec by late Saturday, and 400 others near Ottawa, in Laval north of Montreal and in Trois-Rivieres between Montreal and Quebec City.   About 120 additional soldiers stood at the ready to be mobilized in New Brunswick.   On Saturday, the flooding claimed its first victim in the municipality of Pontiac, west of Ottawa: a man in his seventies who did not see that a bridge had been washed away, and plunged his car into the stream below.
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2019 01:08:11 +0200

Montreal, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - The bodies of three world-renowned professional mountaineers -- two Austrians and an American -- were found Sunday after they went missing during an avalanche on a western Canadian summit, the national parks agency said.   American Jess Roskelley, 36, and Hansjorg Auer, 35, and David Lama, 28, of Austria went missing late Tuesday at Banff National Park. Authorities launched an aerial search the next day.   The three men were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Pass, an isolated and highly difficult route.

They were part of a team of experienced athletes sponsored by American outdoor equipment firm The North Face.   "Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones," the agency said in a statement.   "We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities. Our thoughts are with families, friends and all those who have been affected by this tragic incident."

Roskelley was the son of John Roskelley, who was also considered one of the best mountaineers of his own generation.   Father and son had climbed Mount Everest together in 2003. At the time, the younger Roskelley was only 20 years old, and became the youngest mountaineer to climb the planet's highest mountain above sea level.   Auer and Lama, from Tyrol in Austria, were also considered among the best mountaineers of the times.
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2019 23:36:53 +0200

Kano, Nigeria, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Two people including a British aid worker have been shot dead and four tourists abducted in an attack by armed gunmen on a holiday resort in north-western Nigeria, police said on Sunday.   Police and aid agency Mercy Corps named the dead woman as Faye Mooney.   "Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist", Chief executive Neal Keny-Guyer said in a statement posted on social media, adding that colleagues were "utterly heartbroken".   Mooney had "worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria", Keny-Guyer added.

Gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Kaduna City at 11.40 pm (2240 GMT) on Friday, Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told reporters.   The Briton "was gunned down from the hill by the kidnappers who tried to gain entrance into the castle but failed", Sabo said.   "They took away about five other locals but one person escaped," he said.   A Nigerian man believed by local residents in Kajuru to be Mooney's partner was also killed in the attack on the resort where a group of 13 tourists had arrived from Lagos, southwest Nigeria the police spokesman said.   In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become an increasingly rampant, particularly on the road to the capital, Abuja, where armed attacks have thrived.

Kidnapping in Nigeria's oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.   Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.   Kajuru is also flash point in the deadly conflict over increasingly limited land resources in Africa's most populous country, between herders and farmers, predominantly across central and northern Nigeria.    The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru.

Tourists are rarely affected by the herder-farmer violence and Kajuru Castle resort has attracted many foreign and local visitors.   Yet police have struggled to thwart kidnappers in the region. The latest attack comes in a resort in northern Nigeria, particularly popular amongst foreign and well-to-do local tourists.   In January four western tourists -- two Americans and two Canadians -- were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed.   Earlier in April, recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered his most senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region.
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2019 09:55:31 +0200

Lilongwe, Malawi, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Three people died after a landslide hit a village in the Rumphi district in northern Malawi, with at least five still missing Sunday and many others injured and hospitalised.   Rumphi police spokesperson Tupeliwe Kabwilo told AFP that incessant rains in the area led to the landslide early Saturday which washed away an entire village nestled between Mphompha Hills and Lake Malawi.   Among the dead are two boys aged 12 and 15 and a 35-year-old woman, according to police.   The missing persons, who are feared dead, include a one-year-old boy, two other boys aged six and 10 as well as two women aged 35 and 46.

A Rumphi district council official who was at the scene of the disaster told AFP that the affected area was inaccessible by road and it would be impossible to mount a rescue operation.   "Huge boulders rolled from the mountain and these are the ones that cause the biggest damage and if the missing victims are buried under these rocks, then we will need an excavator to move them." said council official Wakisa Mtete.    "But there is no access by road to the area so this is an impossible task. The boulders are so big that moving them by hand is not possible," Mtete said.    He added that it was also possible for some of the missing bodies to have been washed into the lake, in which case the bodies would resurface within the next two days.

Disaster management officer Alufeyo Mhango told AFP that government ministries were preparing to step in to transport heavy duty excavation equipment over the lake as soon as the weather cleared.   "We have been informed by government ministries that we should get ready to transport the equipment. But this will depend on whether we get a large boat for that and on whether the hailstorm stops because there could be a recurrence of the landslide," he said.   According to Mhango, Police officers, soldiers and emergency personnel are on site attending to the disaster.
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2019 15:21:54 +0200

Butembo, DR Congo, April 20, 2019 (AFP) - The DR Congo army fought off an attack on a hospital by a rebel group, killing one militiaman, police said Saturday, in the latest assault on medical staff trying to rein in an Ebola outbreak in the east of the country.   Armed rebels from the Mai-Mai militia attacked Katwa hospital near the city of Butembo at around 3.40 am (0140 GMT), officers told AFP.   "We have resisted and repelled the attack even though these 'Mai-Mai' had a PKM machine gun," said Butembo police chief Colonel Paul Ngoma.   He said one rebel was killed and four captured.   The attack came a day after a WHO doctor, Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, was shot dead in an assault by armed militiamen on Butembo University Hospital, according to the World Health Organization.   The WHO said the epidemiologist had been deployed to help combat Ebola in the region.

The attacks are the latest in a string of assaults on teams grappling with a near nine-month-old Ebola outbreak that has claimed almost 850 lives.   UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned the Butembo University Hospital attack and called on Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.   DR Congo declared its tenth outbreak of Ebola last August, in north-eastern North Kivu province, before the virus spread into the neighbouring Ituri region.   Local organisations have said the number of Ebola deaths is rising.    An updated toll by the health ministry, issued on Wednesday, said there had been 843 deaths since August.

WHO data from April 9 put the number of confirmed or probable cases at 1,186, of which 751 had been fatal.   The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-16, which killed more than 11,300 people.    Efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever in DRC have been hampered by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.    On March 9, an attack on a treatment centre at Butembo left a policeman dead and a health worker wounded. It was the third attack on that centre.   On February 24, a treatment centre in Katwa was set ablaze.
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2019 16:36:32 +0200

Khokha, Yemen, April 19, 2019 (AFP) - Oxfam has warned that war-torn Yemen risks a "massive resurgence" of cholera, with around 195,000 suspected cases of the disease recorded so far this year.   "Fears that the world's worst cholera outbreak could be set for a massive resurgence are growing," the relief organisation said Thursday.   It said aid agencies were struggling to reach suspected cases.

In a statement, Oxfam pointed to "fighting and restraints on access, including checkpoints and permit requirements imposed by the warring parties", and warned the coming rainy season was likely to accelerate the spread of the disease.   The water-borne bacterial infection has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Yemen since the outbreak began in 2016, according to Oxfam.

At a medical centre for the displaced in the government-held western town of Khokha, Qassem Suleiman had brought his son Alaa for tests after a serious case of diarrhoea.   Doctor Wadah al-Tiri told AFP that several patients had been transferred to Aden while others had been treated at the Khokha centre.   He said a tent was to be set up for suspected cases.

The doctor said Yemen badly needed international aid to combat the epidemic.   The UN's humanitarian coordination office OCHA said last month that children under the age of five make up nearly a third of this year's cases.   The spike, which comes two years after Yemen suffered its worst cholera outbreak, was concentrated in six governorates including in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and Sanaa province, both combat zones, it said.

Yemen's conflict, which pits Iran-linked rebels against a regional pro-government alliance led by Saudi Arabia, has left some 10,000 people dead since 2015 and pushed millions to the brink of famine.   Aid groups say the actual death toll could be five times as high.    The war has created the perfect environment for cholera to thrive, as civilians across the country lack access to clean water and health care.