Travel risk round-up: 31 October

Moderate
South Africa: Fatalities in Ongoing Wildfire near George, Western Cape

Officials on Tuesday, 30 October have reported that at least seven people have been killed in an ongoing blaze along the popular tourist stretch known as the Garden Route in Western Cape. A pregnant woman, two toddlers and a baby are reported to be among the fatalities. The fire remains active on the slopes above the city of George and three suburbs, housing over 1,500 people, have been evacuated. 400 firefighters have been battling the fire, but windy conditions are complicating efforts to extinguish the fire, which started after a heatwave in the region.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in the Western Cape are advised to avoid the area of the fire due to the ongoing response and should monitor local media for the latest developments and public advisories. Heed all directives and advice issued by local authorities, including evacuations. Members conducting overland travel in the region should review their journey routes due to the ongoing road closures in the vicinity of the firefighting operations.


Moderate
Philippines: Fatality Reported, People Missing, Power Outages and Thousands Evacuated as Typhoon Yutu Passes over Luzon

A 5-year-old-girl was killed and three people are missing after Typhoon Yutu, known locally as Rosita, passed over Luzon island on Tuesday, 30 October. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes and many are without power as strong wind and rain caused landslides, knocked down trees and power lines and ripped roofs off some structures. Yutu struck northeastern Isabela province before dawn, before weakening as it blew across the Sierra Madre mountain range and then tracking west through Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet and La Union provinces, before blowing out west into the South China Sea. Yutu’s winds were roughly half those it sustained when it made impact with the U.S. pacific territory of Northern Mariana Islands earlier in the week, with Tuesday’s wind speeds peaking around 150km/h (93mph) as opposed to 290km/h (180mph) in the Northern Marianas. However, there were still casualties reported as a 5-year-old girl was killed in a landslide in Lubuagan town in Kalinga province and three other people were reported missing after being swept away in flooded rivers and dangerous seas. More than 10,000 villagers were moved to emergency shelters in several northern provinces, but despite the passing of the typhoon, authorities are warning residents not to return immediately to homes in flood-prone areas.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in Luzon are advised to continue to closely monitor local media outlets for weather-related updates and to heed all directives from local authorities due to the threat that still exists from flooding and landslides. Minimise time spent in low-lying flood-prone areas and unstable slopes susceptible to landslides. All travel plans should be reviewed due to the threat posed by the storm system and motorists conducting essential journeys should exercise extreme caution due to likely hazardous driving conditions caused by surface water, debris and landslides.


High
Indonesia: Update: Ministry of Transportation Reports No Survivors following Crash of Lion Air Aircraft near Jakarta

The Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has confirmed the death of 189 passengers after a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed into the sea north-east off the island of Java at 0633hrs (2333 UTC, 28 October) on Monday, 29 October. The aircraft operated by budget carrier Lion Air was bound for Pangkal Pinang’s Depati Amir Airport (PGK) but crashed soon after taking off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK). It is indicated that the pilot requested a return to the airport shortly before the aircraft made a sudden sharp dive into the sea. The National Board for Disaster Management (NBSM) confirmed that debris of the aircraft has been found at the crash site. No statement has been yet made regarding the potential cause of the incident. Shortly after the incident, the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade instructed government officials and contractors not to utilise Lion Air until a full investigation into the crash has been completed.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members travelling by aircraft in Indonesia are advised to ensure that they use a reputable service provider with a proven safety record that abides by international safety standards. Those intending to fly via CGK should contact their respective air carrier in order to ascertain if their flight has been affected and amend their itineraries if necessary. Travellers should monitor local media sources for any further information.


Moderate
United Kingdom: Helicopter Crashes in Stadium’s Parking Lot in Leicester

According to emerging social media sources on Saturday, 27 October, a helicopter, allegedly of the Leicester City football team, crashed in the parking lot of the King Power Stadium, located on Filbert Way in Leicester. Thus far no casualties have been officially reported but the passengers of the helicopter are feared dead. Emergency operations and investigations to ascertain the cause of the incident are ongoing. Localised disruption may occur. Further information is awaited.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members are advised to avoid the vicinity of the crash in the immediate term due to ongoing emergency operations and investigation work. Expect localised travel disruptions due to ongoing emergency search and rescue operations.


Moderate
Mexico: Mass Grave of 19 Bodies Uncovered in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco State

According to local sources on Friday, 26 October, a mass grave with the bodies of 19 individuals was uncovered in Lagos de Moreno in Jalisco State. Authorities say the bodies found belong to residents of the area based on records of missing persons. The local prosecutor’s office reported that two skulls were found and of the bodies, 16 are men and three women, with an estimate that the group were killed four months ago. Thus far, those killed have not yet been identified. Authorities have begun an investigation into who is responsible for the deaths, although it is expected that area drug cartels are to blame.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Due to the high threat of violent crime and criminal activity in the region, members are advised to maintain a high degree of situational awareness in public. Travellers are also advised to maintain a low profile during their itineraries and avoid displaying signs of wealth in order to mitigate against opportunistic crime. Members should devise a robust travel plan and schedule to minimise these risks.