WORLD NEWS

Getting countries ...
Select countries and read reports below or

Taiwan

This large island is situated off the coastland of China and has been ruled separately since a civil war in 1949. Nevertheless, China is exerting significant pressure on the Taiwan government to ensure that the island returns under full Chinese rule. Mala
ia prophylaxis is not required. The capital of Taiwan is Taipei. This is a typical bustling Asian city with a significant pollution problem associated with cars and scooters. The climate is hot and humid for much of the year. Mains electricity is 110v using the small American style plugs.
Despite the American influences throughout Taiwan it is worth knowing that the level of understanding of English is very poor outside the major hotels. Taxi drivers (cheap and worthwhile if any distance is involved) will understand almost no English so it is essential that you have the name of your hotel written in Chinese with you at all times.
In Taipei, the shops and banks tend to open later than might be expected. Typically banks open at about 9am and many shops at 10am or later. On early arrival at Taipei airport the banks may not be open and so it is important to change money in your hotel if possible.
There is a wide variety of food available within the main urban areas ranging from the quick foods (MacDonalds etc) to the traditional Chinese restaurants) The cost of meals would be similar to most European countries.
***************************************************
Taiwan US Consular Information Sheet
August 18, 2008
Reminder:
The Department of State provides information to assist travelers in better understanding foreign locations they may visit and the known risks that they should consider.
Travelers traveling to Taiwan are encouraged to inform themselves about Taiwan prior to commencement of travel.
It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain a U.S. passport from the Department of State and the appropriate visas from the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative’s Office (TECRO) in Washington, D.C., or the nearest office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO).
When making reservations, travelers should discuss cancellation policies with their travel agent, travel insurer or airline, as scheduled trips abroad may be nonrefundable.
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; Medicare does not cover medical expenses abroad.

DESCRIPTION:
Taiwan is a stable democracy with a strong and well-developed economy.
Tourist facilities are widely available.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Taiwan for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:
U.S. passport holders will be allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to thirty days (no extensions or change of status allowed) if they have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Taiwan and a confirmed return or onward air ticket.
Travelers must have already met any additional visa requirements for the next destination, if applicable.

Visitors with passports valid for less than six months from the date of entry into Taiwan must apply for a landing visa, which has a duration of stay of no more than 30 days, or until the passport’s expiration date, whichever comes first.
Extensions are not permitted.
Travelers who apply outside of Taiwan at Taiwan Overseas Missions for a landing visa will be charged a processing fee of US $131.
Travelers who apply for a landing visa upon arrival in Taiwan will be charged NT $4,900.
This fee includes a NT $800 service charge and can be paid only in Taiwan currency.

U.S. travelers planning to visit longer than 30 days may apply for and receive a visitor visa at one of the Taiwan Overseas Missions.
The processing fee is U.S. $131; an additional $65.50 will be charged for expedited processing.
Travelers arriving in Taiwan with a valid passport and valid Taiwan visa may be admitted for up to 60 days for multiple entries even if their passports are valid for less than 6 months.

For specific information about application, entry requirements and fees, travelers should contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), 4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC
20016-2137, via either its main telephone number, (202) 895-1800, or its visa section telephone number, (202) 895-1814.
TECRO's visa website is http://www.taiwanembassy.org/US/lp.asp?ctNode=2315&CtUnit=62&BaseDSD=7&mp=12.
The main fax number at TECRO is (202) 363-0999, and the visa section fax number is (202) 895-0017.
TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

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:
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States 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 Standard 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.

Public Demonstrations:
Taiwan is a modern democracy with vibrant public participation.
Political demonstrations are common, especially around election time.
Since Taiwan democratized in the early 1990s, there have been very few cases of violence associated with political demonstrations.
But even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.
American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any political demonstrations.

CRIME:
Although the overall violent crime rate in Taiwan is relatively low, travelers should avoid high crime areas, such as areas where massage parlors, illegal "barbershops," and illegal "nightclubs" run by criminals prevail.
In contrast to their counterparts, legal barbershops prominently display the usual grooming services.
Illegal nightclubs have no advertisement and are publicized by word of mouth only.
Public transportation, including the buses and the subway, is generally safe in Taiwan, but women should exercise caution when traveling alone in taxis late at night.
In several parts of Taiwan, incidents of purse snatching by thieves on motorcycles have been reported.

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 www.cybercrime.gov.

The emergency telephone number for Taiwan services (ambulance, fire, police) is 119.
Taiwan Police offers a 24-hour telephone line for foreigners in English:
0800-024-111.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the National Immigration Agency and to American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)-Taipei or AIT-Kaohsiung.
The National Immigration Agency has foreign affairs sections that are usually staffed by English-speaking officers.
National Immigration Agency contact numbers for the major cities in Taiwan are as follows: Taipei (02) 2389-9983, Kaohsiung (07) 282-1400, Tainan (06) 293-7641, Taichung (04) 2254-9981, Taitung (089) 342-251, Pingtung (08) 721-6665.

If you are the victim of a crime while in Taiwan, in addition to reporting to the local police, contact AIT-Taipei (02) 2162-2000 or AIT-Kaohsiung (07) 238-7744 for assistance.
AIT’s consular staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds can be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help explain the local criminal justice process and assist with finding an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Health facilities in Taiwan are adequate for routine and emergency medical treatment.
Physicians are well trained and many have studied in the U.S. and speak English.
State-of-the-art medical equipment is available at many clinics and hospitals.
Hospitals’ nursing services provide medication dispensing and wound care, but generally not the daily patient maintenance functions found in U.S. hospitals.
Ambulances are available in Taiwan but are not like those in the U.S.
There are no trained Emergency Medical System Technicians accompanying an ambulance, unless within 2 kilometers of National Taiwan University Hospital or Veterans General Hospital.
For information on specific clinics and hospitals, please refer to the AIT web page at http://www.ait.org.tw/en/uscitizens/HealthCareInTW.asp
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); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet 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.

English speakers experiencing a personal crisis in Taiwan can contact the Community Services Center in Taipei (www.community.com.tw) at (02) 2836-8134 or (02) 2838-4947 to arrange counseling or to contact a support group.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Taiwan.
However, persons staying over 90 days or applying for residency or work permits must be tested for HIV/AIDS.
MEDICAL INSURANCE:
Doctors and hospitals in Taiwan expect immediate cash payment for health services, although some private clinics may accept credit cards.
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 outside the United States, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Taiwan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Roads in Taiwan's major cities are generally congested, and the many scooters and motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic make driving conditions worse. Special caution should be taken when driving on mountain roads, which are typically narrow, winding, and poorly banked, and which may be impassable after heavy rains.

Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing streets because many drivers do not respect the pedestrian's right of way.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
The national authority responsible for road safety in Taiwan is the Traffic Safety Committee, MOTC. Information regarding road safety may be found on their web site at http://www.motc.gov.tw/en/hypage.cgi?HYPAGE=Eng_Index.htm.

For general information on tourism in Taiwan information may be found at www.tbroc.gov.tw (Taiwan Tourism Bureau - Ministry of Transportation and Communication).

For specific information concerning Taiwan's driver's permits, vehicle inspection road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the nearest TECO office.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Taiwan's air carrier operations.
For more information, visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Screening Process:
Because of the need for early detection and prevention of communicable diseases, all arriving passengers are scanned with an infrared thermal apparatus to test for elevated temperatures.
Passengers with elevated temperatures are required to fill out the Communicable Disease Survey Form and will then be evaluated for additional testing and/or follow up with local health authorities.

Customs Regulations:
Taiwan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of items such as: firearms, antiquities, medications, currency, ivory, etc.
It is advisable to contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO) in Washington or one of the TECO offices in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Please see our information on customs regulations.

Disaster Preparedness:
Taiwan is subject to strong earthquakes that can occur anywhere on the island.
Taiwan is also hit by typhoons, usually from July to October.
Travelers planning a trip to Taiwan can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness on the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page at http://www.solar.ifa.hawaii.edu/Tropical/tropical.html.
The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan also maintains a web site that provides information about typhoons and earthquakes.
Its Internet address is http://www.cwb.gov.tw.

Dual Nationality and Compulsory Military Service:
Taiwan law provides for compulsory military service.
Men between the ages of 18 and 36 who were born in Taiwan or who have ever held a Taiwan passport should be aware that they may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan, even if they are also U.S. citizens, and even if they have entered Taiwan on U.S. passports.
Potentially affected individuals are urged to consult with the nearest office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the United States before visiting Taiwan to determine whether they are subject to the military service requirement.

English Language Programming:
The International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) www.icrt.com.tw provides all of Taiwan with English-language programming 24 hours a day.
In the event of an emergency or an approaching typhoon, travelers in the Taipei and Kaohsiung areas should tune their radios to FM 100.7 for English-language updates.
Travelers can find ICRT in Taichung at FM 100.1.
Travelers can listen to ICRT's live broadcasting on the Internet at http://www.icrt.com.tw/en/D01.php.
TV news in English is available on channel 53 at 6:00 a.m. and at 11:45 pm on Formosa Television, or at its web site http://englishnews.ftv.com.tw.
The three main English-language daily newspapers published in Taiwan are Taipei Times, Taiwan News and China Post.
In addition to the print versions, readers can read their content online at http://www.taipeitimes.com, http://www.etaiwannews.com and http://www.chinapost.com.tw.

Judicial Assistance:
Judicial assistance is provided by authorities on Taiwan in response to letters rogatory from foreign courts in accordance with Taiwan's "Law Governing Extension of Assistance to Foreign Courts."
For further information regarding judicial assistance in Taiwan please go to the following website: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/uscitizens/judicial.asp.

AUTHORITY - 22 U.S.C. 3306(b) provides acts performed by officers of the American Institute in Taiwan under 22 U.S.C. 3306 are valid, as if performed by any other person authorized under the laws of the United States to perform such acts (consular officers).
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the District of Colombia.
22 U.S.C. 3305, 3306(a)(3).
The judicial assistance acts of AIT personnel parallel the acts performed by U.S. consular officers under 28 U.S.C. 1781 (a)(2).
See Sec. 1-201(h) of Executive Order No. 12143, 44 Fed. Reg. 37191 (June 23, 1979).
Pursuant to Section 10(a) of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), 22 U.S.C. 3309(a), the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative's Office ("TECRO") is the instrumentality established by the people of Taiwan having the necessary authority under the laws of Taiwan to take actions on behalf of Taiwan in accordance with the Act.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:
While outside the United States, a U.S. citizen is subject to local 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 those in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating Taiwan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. In Taiwan, either side has the right to appeal a court decision, sometimes necessitating a second or even a third trial.
Americans contemplating visiting or residing in Taiwan should note that judges have discretionary authority to prevent defendants from leaving Taiwan until all appeals have been exhausted.
Americans have been barred from leaving Taiwan for extended periods, even in cases that involved only nominal civil damages or fines. .
Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Taiwan are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign state 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/LOCATION OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE:
The American Institute in Taiwan is authorized by law to perform American citizen services.
Americans living or traveling in Taiwan are encouraged to register with AIT through the State Department’s travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Taiwan.
Americans resident in Taiwan are encouraged also to become a member of AIT's group email notifications by sending an email to AIT_Citizens-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
Americans without Internet access may register directly with AIT Taipei or AIT Kaohsiung.
By registering, American citizens make it easier for the American Institute to contact them in case of emergency.

The American Institute in Taiwan is a full passport services agency.
Processing time for routine passports is about two weeks.

The American Institute in Taiwan is located at No.7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: (886) 2-2162-2000; fax: (886) 2-2162-2239, web site: http://www.ait.org.tw.
The American Institute in Taiwan branch office is located at No. 2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: (886) 7-238-7744; fax: (886) 7-238-5237.
AIT's citizen services section can also be contacted by e-mail at aitamcit@mail.ait.org.tw.
In case of emergencies after working hours, the duty officer at the American Institute in Taiwan at Taipei may be contacted at (886) 2-2162-2000.
* * *
This replaces the Specific Information dated April 15, 2008, to add emergency telephone numbers, to change the email address for subscribing to the Yahoo group for email notifications, and to update the section on Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Criminal Penalties and Special Circumstances.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2019 07:40:27 +0200

Taipei, April 18, 2019 (AFP) - A 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Taiwan on Thursday, the US Geological Survey said, shaking buildings and disrupting traffic.   In the capital Taipei, highrises swayed violently while some panicked school children fled their classrooms in eastern Yilan county, according to reports.      Local media said the quake had been felt all over the island and a highway connecting Yilan and Hualien was shut down due to falling rocks.    The quake struck at 13:01 pm (0501 GMT) at a depth of 19 kilometres (11.8 miles) in eastern Hualien county. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The island's central weather bureau put its magnitude at 6.1.   The Japan Meteorological Agency warned people living near the coast could notice some effects on sea levels, but said there would be no tsunami.   "Due to this earthquake, Japan's coastal areas may observe slight changes on the oceanic surface, but there is no concern about damage," the agency said.   Hualien was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake last year that killed 17 people.    Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.    The island's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
Date: Mon 11 Mar 2019
Source: Focus Taiwan [abridged, edited]

A Taipei resident in her 20s has been confirmed to be infected with measles and is suspected of having had contact with 247 people during the incubation period, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The woman, who works at a restaurant in the ATT 4 Fun shopping centre in Taipei's Xinyi District might have been infected through coming into contact with foreign tourists in her workplace, said CDC deputy director-general Lo Yi-chun in a statement issued on Mon [11 Mar 2019].

To date, 247 people considered to have had contact with the patient, including her family, colleagues and health care personnel, have been traced. The contact tracing will continue until 27 Mar [2019]. The CDC alerted people who used the same bus and had been to the same places the patient visited to beware of possible exposure to the measles virus. It asked those who might have had contact with the woman to conduct self-health management for 18 days.

The reported new case has brought the total number of confirmed measles cases in Taiwan to 29 since the beginning of this year [2019], 16 contracted at home and 13 from abroad. Among the 16 indigenous cases, 8 have been linked to imported cases, the CDC said.

Lo reminded the public that measles is highly contagious and now is the peak transmission season. Outbreaks in some Asian countries have been growing, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China, India and Indonesia, he said. As of 24 Feb [2019], the number of measles cases in Japan has risen to 258, the highest in the same period since 2009, Lo added.  [byline: Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao]
===========================
[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Taiwan:
Date: Wed 20 Feb 2019
Source: Taipei Times [edited]

A total of 981 people were diagnosed with chicken pox nationwide last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday [Tue 19 Feb 2019].  The figure was higher than the previous 3 weeks and the highest reported during the same week in the past 5 years, the centers said, adding that most of those diagnosed with the disease were children and adolescents between 5 and 14 years old.  "Since the chicken pox vaccine became included in the nation's recommended routine immunizations for infants and children in 2004, the incidence rate has fallen by nearly 9%, but clustered cases still sometimes occur on school campuses," CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said.

A total of 5 clusters were reported in the past 4 weeks, while 11 clusters out of the 12 reported this year [2019] were in schools, 6 of which were elementary schools, he said.  "About 10 to 20% of elementary-school students who were vaccinated against chicken pox at a younger age gradually lose protective immunity over time," Lo said. Although specialists believe that it is not necessary to revaccinate everyone, the centres still encourage parents of children who have lost protective immunity to consider getting their children revaccinated, he added.

As the chicken pox is highly contagious and can transmit through air or fluids, the centres urged people experiencing symptoms -- fever, loss of appetite, headaches, tiredness, malaise, itchy rashes and blisters -- to wear a surgical mask, see a doctor immediately and avoid going to school.

Meanwhile, 161 019 people last week [11-17 Feb 2019] visited hospitals and clinics complaining of diarrhoea, up 9.2% from the prior week [4-10 Feb 2019], the centres said. In the past 4 weeks, 25 clustered cases have been reported from mainly restaurants and hotels, it added.

Late winter and early spring are the common peak season for chicken pox and diarrhoea, it said, urging people to wash their hands and practice good cough etiquette, as well as rest at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have subsided.  [Byline: Lee I-chia]
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2018 09:55:34 +0100

Taipei, Dec 26, 2018 (AFP) - A search was underway for 152 Vietnamese who arrived in Taiwan on tourist visas, authorities said Wednesday, as local media reported they may have come to the island to work illegally.   The tourists were issued visas under an initiative launched three years ago to attract more visitors to Taiwan from south and southeast Asia.   A total of 153 Vietnamese nationals arrived in southern Kaohsiung city over the weekend -- and only one has been tracked down, according to Taiwan's National Immigration Agency.   "The agency has set up a taskforce and worked with the police to investigate the tourists who are unaccounted for and the group behind them," it said in a statement, without elaborating.   Local media speculated that the Vietnamese may have come to Taiwan to work illegally.   They face deportation and a three- to five-year ban from the island, the immigration agency said.   About 150 tourists had previously gone missing under the programme, according to the Tourism Bureau, though it is not clear how many of them were found.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP it had asked Taiwanese authorities for clarification on the case and sought coordination so bilateral tourism and exchange programmes would not be affected.   The visas of the missing Vietnamese have been revoked and Taiwan's representative office in Vietnam has suspended issuing tourist visas to another 182 Vietnamese whose applications were approved by the Tourism Bureau, Taiwan's foreign ministry said.   The tourism programme is part of Taiwan's "southbound policy", which targets 16 south and southeast Asian countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, in a bid to boost tourism as arrivals from mainland China decline.   The number of tourists from the mainland has slid dramatically as relations with China deteriorate, with speculation authorities are turning off the taps to pressure the government of the Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen, who came to office in 2016.
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2018 07:37:23 +0200

Taipei, Oct 23, 2018 (AFP) - A 5.7-magnitude earthquake jolted Taiwan Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, and was felt strongly in the capital Taipei.   The quake struck around 104 kilometres (66 miles) off the coast of the port city of Hualien, in the east of the island, at a depth of 34 km at 12:34 pm (0434 GMT).   There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.   Taiwan's central weather bureau measured the quake at 6.0 magnitude.   Local media said the quake had been felt all over the island.

Hualien was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in February this year which killed 17 people.    Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.   The island's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
More ...

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.