Travel risk round-up: 22 March

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Democratic Republic of Congo: Dozens Killed and Injured Following Train Derailment in Kasai Occidental Province

According to international media sources on Sunday, 17 March, at least 24 people were killed and 31 injured in a derailment of a freight train near the settlement of Benaleka located in the Kasai-Occidental province. Local rail authorities have stated that the majority of the passengers were stowaways. Several train carriages have fallen into the Luembe River. Local authorities have suspended search operations for the moment due to lack of sufficient lighting. Such accidents are very common due to the deteriorating infrastructure.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members with travel plans involving transit in the affected area should review their travel plans in light of expected disruptions. Travellers should monitor local media sources and official announcements for further updates. Members are advised to avoid the vicinity of the aforementioned area while the response and investigation into the incident occurs. Monitor local media outlets for the latest information on the incident.

Burkina Faso: Priest Kidnapped near Djibo, Soum Province

According to international media sources on Tuesday, 19 March, a Burkinabe priest was kidnapped on Sunday, 17 March, near Djibo, the capital of Soum province. According to the authorities, the priest did not return to Djibo when expected, and they state that he was probably abducted by armed individuals around Sergosoma, and that his whereabouts currently are unknown. Security operations and investigations are ongoing in the area.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Due to the high threat of militancy and criminal activity, travel to Burkina Faso should be subject to a thorough localised threat assessment and undertaken in coordination with a trusted security provider. Members are advised to subject all travel, particularly to remote and rural areas, to strict journey management protocols. To reduce the risk of kidnapping, travellers should maintain a low profile; keep travel itineraries discreet and vary travel routines, including routes, vehicles and timings.

India: Several Injuries Reported following Grenade Attack in Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir

Emerging local media sources on Thursday, 21 March, report that at least three police officers have been injured in a grenade attack by suspected militants at the Main Chowk in Sopore, Baramulla district, Jammu and Kashmir state. Reports indicate the militants threw a grenade at a security forces party who were at the market, the injured were then hospitalised. Security forces have reportedly cordoned off the area and launched search operations. This attack comes a few days after a police officer was killed outside her home in Shopian by suspected militants.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in Jammu and Kashmir should avoid the vicinity of the incident due to ongoing operations. Further, members should monitor local media sources to remain apprised of security operations and militant activity. Travellers should heed all directives issued by security forces and local authorities and observe any extraordinary security measures that may be in place, including curfews.

China: Dozens of Fatalities following Explosion at Chemical Company in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province

At least 47 people have been killed, and a further 640 injured, following an explosion on Thursday, 21 March, at the Tianjiayi Chemical Company pesticide plant in the Chenjigang Industrial Park in Yancheng, Jiangsu province. The resultant fire from the blast which reportedly occurred at 1450hrs (0650 UTC), spread to neighbouring factories and was finally brought under control around 0300hrs on Friday morning (1900 UTC, 21 March). The cause of the explosion is still being investigated, however reports indicate the company produces more than 30 organic chemical compounds, some of which are highly flammable, and it has previously been cited and fined for work safety violations.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members are advised to avoid the vicinity of the incident as ongoing investigations are likely to cause disruption. Monitor local media outlets for the latest updates on the situation and follow any advice or directives issued by local authorities.

Brazil: Flooding Reported in Sao Paulo State following Heavy Rainfall

According to regional media reports, severe flooding has been reported in Sao Paulo state following heavy rain which began on Tuesday, 19 March. Media reports indicate overland disruption should be anticipated as a number of main roadways in the South, East and West regions, as well as the Sao Paulo downtown area, have been rendered impassable due to flooding and debris blockading roads. As the rain continues, flash flooding is likely to continue and could lead to landslides. Recent flooding in the Sao Paulo state has resulted in multiple fatalities.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Travellers are advised to remain abreast of weather-related developments and review contingency measures to minimise any impact on business continuity. Drivers should exercise a heightened degree of caution in flood-affected areas due to likely hazardous conditions caused by flooding, landslides and debris.

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