ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Dominican Republic / Haiti / Jamaica (Security threat levels – 3 / 4 / 3): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 16 August 2021, Tropical Depression Grace had weakened from a tropical storm and was located approximately 200 km (125 mi) southeast of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, and 625 km east of the city of Montego Bay, Jamaica, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Grace had maximum sustained winds of 55 kph (35 mph), with higher gusts, and was moving west at 24 kph. The storm was forecast to continue west-northwest over the next several days, with its center passing near the southern coast of the island of Hispaniola on 16 August before passing near Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands on 17-18 August. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as for the entire country of Jamaica. On 15 August, Grace, as a tropical storm, brought heavy rains to the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic.
Grace is forecast to produce 125-255 mm (5-10 in) of rainfall, with isolated maximums of 380 mm across Haiti and the Dominican Republic through 17 August and 50-100 mm of rain with isolated maximums of 150 mm over Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands through 19 August. Swells generated by Grace are likely to produce life-threatening surf and rip conditions across portions of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the southern portion of Cuba during the coming days.
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): As of 16 August 2021, at least 1,297 people have been reported dead and at least 5,700 injured, following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Saint-Louis du Sud – located in southwest Haiti — on the morning of 14 August. Shaking was felt in the capital Port-au-Prince and as far away as Jamaica. The Hotel Le Manguier, located in the Sud department, collapsed. In Jérémie — capital of the Grand’Anse department — significant damage occurred to local infrastructure and buildings, including the St. Louis King of France Cathedral. Likewise, the Abaka Bay Resort located on the island of Ile a Vache was damaged. The quake destroyed more than 7,000 residences and damaged approximately 5,000 others, with the majority of damage reported in the southwestern peninsula of Tiburon. Early reports indicate that most of the fatalities occurred in the Sud department, although the epicenter was located in the Nippes department. Multiple local hospitals are overwhelmed by significant numbers of injured people and lack supplies to treat them. A series of aftershocks ranging from 4.2 to 5.2 magnitude occurred in the hours following the initial event, and additional aftershocks remain possible. Shortly after issuing a tsunami threat warning, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System canceled the alert; there were no reports of wave surges in coastal areas.
In response to the quake, which occurred at a depth of 10 km (6 mi) in an area approximately 150 km west of Port-au-Prince, Interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the southern departments of Grand’Anse, Nippes, Ouest – which includes Port-au-Prince – and Sud. International aid organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have begun coordinating relief efforts.
There have thus far been no reports of damage or disruptions to services at Toussaint Louverture International Airport (MTPP/PAP) in Port-au-Prince. As during past similar disasters in Haiti, operators should anticipate minimal authorized access to the facility and should expect to have to reposition for overnight stays due to a combination of limited parking, even under normal circumstances, and the fact that the facility only has one paved runway.
In addition to preexisting poor road infrastructure, as well as the existence of only a few major roadways connecting the southwest area of Haiti to the rest of the country, operators should expect ground access in and out of the affected areas to be extremely disrupted and possibly impassable in some areas for the immediate future. Currently, a landslide has blocked Highway 7 between Jérémie and Les Cayes.
United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 16 August 2021, Tropical Storm Fred was located approximately 90 mi (145 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, with higher gusts. Fred is forecast to continue on its current track and make landfall in the western Florida Panhandle later in the afternoon or early evening hours of 16 August.
Fred is forecast to produce 1-2 in (25-50 mm) of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 5 inches, across southern and central Florida through 16 August. The storm is also expected to produce 4-8 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 12 inches, across the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle areas through 17 August. In addition, 4-7 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 10 inches, is expected in southeastern Alabama, northern Georgia and western areas of South Carolina and North Carolina. Parts of the mid-Atlantic states are expected to receive 2-4 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 6 inches, as the storm interacts with a nearby front. Tornadoes remain a possibility in the Florida Panhandle northward into southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama until the afternoon of 16 August. Storm-generated swells are forecast to reach the coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle later in the day and could cause hazardous surf and riptide conditions.
In anticipation of disruptions associated with the storm, the governor of Florida issued a state of emergency on 13 August for 23 counties — including Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington. The area also includes the cities of Tallahassee and Panama City.
A Storm Surge Warning is currently in effect for the coastal area in Florida from Indian Pass to Yankeetown. Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Florida Panhandle coast from the town of Navarre to the border of Wakulla and Jefferson counties.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): As of 16 August 2021, the Taliban control most of Afghanistan, including the capital Kabul, but have not yet announced a government. U.S. security personnel have completely evacuated U.S. Embassy personnel from Kabul, but evacuations of Afghan citizens who assisted the U.S.-led NATO mission are ongoing. To secure the evacuations, the U.S. military assumed control of Hamid Karzai International Airport (OAKB/KBL) and set up a security perimeter around the facility. Crowds rushed the tarmac even as U.S. soldiers fired shots into the air in an attempt to prevent them from entering. At least five people were killed at the airport, although the details surrounding their deaths remain unknown. The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) canceled all commercial flights due to the volatile situation at the airport and reported that the civilian side of the airport was closed. The ACAA also issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), advising all transiting aircraft to avoid Afghan airspace due to lack of control.
On 15 August, President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan as Taliban militants occupied Kabul – the final remaining major Afghan city under government control — without resistance from government security forces. Taliban militants seized control of the presidential palace hours after Ghani’s departure and Taliban officials vowed not to interfere with ongoing NATO-led evacuation efforts at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Following Ghani’s departure, former President Hamid Karzai announced the formation of a Coordinating Council of Afghan political leaders to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power with Taliban leaders. Karzai did not provide further details regarding the negotiations taking place in Kabul and Qatar.
Denmark, Norway, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have closed their embassies in Kabul, while France moved its embassy to Hamid Karzai International Airport in order to continue processing visas for people seeking to leave the country. Reports indicate the British ambassador also remained at the airport to process visa applications. German and Czech authorities are evacuating their citizens from Kabul, and Emirates airline officials have announced an indefinite suspension of flights to Afghanistan.
The militants directly control 22 of the country’s 34 provinces and at least 270 of its 407 districts. However, given the capitulation of the Afghan government, the remaining districts are likely to be brought under Taliban control within the coming days or weeks.
Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 August 2021, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin submitted his resignation to King Sultan Abdullah. However, Muhyiddin will remain as interim prime minister until the king appoints a new prime minister, although there are currently no candidates who reportedly can command a parliamentary majority. The move comes after Muhyiddin lost the support of a majority of parliament due to conflicts within the ruling coalition over his refusal to drop corruption charges against several politicians. Muhyiddin assumed the premiership in March 2020 after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned following a collapse of the ruling coalition.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 14 August 2021, the premier of New South Wales state imposed a statewide lockdown until at least 22 August due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Under the lockdown restrictions, only essential travel for work, education, shopping or medical care is permitted. Bars and restaurants are closed, and face masks are mandatory in public spaces. Previously, lockdown restrictions only affected the Greater Sydney area, including Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 14 August 2021, the government instituted a lockdown and a ban on road travel to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid a surge of confirmed cases in the country. Under the measures, in effect as of 16 August, all non-essential businesses and offices must close until 21 August and all non-essential vehicles are banned from operating until 27 August.