Travel risk round-up: 1 March

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India/Pakistan: Pakistani Authorities Claim Shooting Down of Indian Jets in Disputed Jammu and Kashmir Region

According to international media reports on Wednesday, 27 February, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s armed forces stated that Pakistani forces had shot down two Indian military aircraft within the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. The spokesperson claimed that one aircraft was downed in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir, whilst the second fell into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The spokesperson also claimed that one Indian pilot had been detained following the incident. Indian authorities meanwhile have stated that the plane downed in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir was the result of a crash and have not clarified whether it was shot down. Reports indicate that Srinagar’s Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport (SXR) and three other airports in neighbouring states have been closed. Pakistan’s foreign ministry also claimed that Pakistan Air Force planes had carried out airstrikes in Indian-administered areas on Wednesday, however, Indian authorities have claimed that the Pakistani aircraft were driven away.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members operating in the aforementioned region are advised to maintain a heightened level of situational awareness and monitor local media sources to remain apprised of any security operations in the area or for any emergency directives issued by authorities. Furthermore, travellers should subject all overland travel to a localised threat assessment and minimise time spent in the vicinity of security forces bases, patrols and vehicles as well as government infrastructure.

Samoa: Depression TD11F Likely to Become a Cyclone

According to regional media reports on Monday, 25 February, the Samoa Meteorology Division has stated that it assesses the chances of depression TD11F developing into a cyclone as high. TD11F is currently located 580km northwest of the capital Apia and is moving towards western parts of Samoa. Authorities have warned that this could bring heavy rains and high winds which could create the conditions for flooding and landslides. Dangerous sea conditions and high swells are also anticipated, with the potential for dangerous surf across coastal areas. Meanwhile, in American Samoa, storm watches have been issued for Aunu’u, Manu’a, Tutuila and Swains Island. In Tutuila, flooding and landslides have occurred whilst flooding was also reported in Ottoville and Tafuna.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Those in Samoa and American Samoa are advised to closely monitor weather-related developments through local media and follow any directives issued by local authorities. Motorists are advised to exercise heightened caution on the roads due to likely hazardous driving conditions.

Somalia: Death Toll Rises as Dozens of Casualties Reported in in VBIED Blast Near Hotel Maka Almukarama, Mogadishu

According to local media sources on Friday, 1 March, the death toll in the deadly vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) blast on Thursday has risen to at least 29 with more than 80 injured. There are reports that militants are holed up at a nearby building as an operation is ongoing with security forces in the area. The blast at the Hotel Maka Almukarama in Mogadishu occurred when a suicide bomber parked a car outside the hotel, then detonated it. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members should be aware that Somalia is considered an extremely high-risk operational environment and, as such, all travel should be conducted with the strictest possible journey management protocols in place. All operationally-critical movement outside of secure compounds should be conducted in coordination with a reputable security provider in coordination with security forces and local authorities.

USA: Evacuations in Place and Homes Reported Without Electricity due to ‘Ice Tsunami’ near Lake Erie, New York

According to unconfirmed regional media sources on Monday, 25 February, residents in Hoover Beach, New York have been asked to voluntarily evacuate from their properties, due to an approaching ‘ice tsunami’. The ‘Ice Tsunami’, a phenomenon known as a seiche, is being witnessed on Lake Erie, where adverse weather has caused huge sheets of ice, measuring up to 30 ft (10m) to travel across the lake. The emergency services of the town of Hamburg issued to the evacuation request, and have asked the general public to remain away from the area and to avoid surrounding roads. Inclement weather is set to continue in the region, as 75mph (120kmh) winds are expected to bring down power lines and trees, causing widespread disruption. The recent bad weather has reportedly left thousands without power across the eastern United States.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in the aforementioned areas are advised to monitor local media sources and tune into local radio stations for weather-related updates and to remain apprised of disruption and warnings in their particular area of operations. Travellers should familiarise themselves with local emergency protocols and heed any directives issued by local authorities. Minimise time spent in low-lying flood-prone areas, valleys and unstable slopes susceptible to flash floods and landslides and coastal regions during the passing of the storm system.

Morocco: Assault and Attempted Rape of Foreign National Reported in Rabat

According to media reports on Wednesday, 27 February, A 23-year-old Italian woman was recently attacked in Rabat as she was returning home after a night out. The victim had just exited a taxi, when she attacked and stabbed by three men, who then attempted to rape her. A passer-by was able to intervene, upon which the perpetrators fled. Police are currently investigating the incident and attempting to identify the attackers.

Advice for businesses and travellers

The majority of violent crime occurs in Rabat’s low-income neighbourhoods. As such, Members in the vicinity are advised to remain vigilant at all times and maintain strong situational awareness. Members should monitor local media sources for further updates on the incident and heed any directives issued by police and local authorities.

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