ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): During the early hours of 21 August 2021, Hurricane Grace made landfall as a Category 3 storm approximately 50 km (30 mi) south-southeast of Tuxpan, Veracruz state, and 185 km north-northwest of the city of Veracruz. The storm felled trees and power cables, caused flooding, especially near overflowing rivers, and triggered landslides. At least eight people were killed, including seven in the state capital Xalapa from the effects of a landslide, and one in the city of Poza Rica. Local media reports indicate that Poza Rica’s restaurant zone has been destroyed. The storm disrupted the flow of electricity in several areas of Veracruz state, affecting at least 565,000 people, according to the national power utility company Federal Electricity Commission. The storm dissipated on the afternoon of 21 August as it moved farther inland.
United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 23 August 2021, relief and recovery efforts are continuing in rural areas of the Middle Tennessee region amid destruction caused by extreme rainfall and subsequent flooding on 21 August. In Humphreys County, located approximately 60 mi (100 km) west of the state capital Nashville, meteorologists registered up to 17 inches (43 cm) of rain in less than 24 hours — a record for single-day rainfall in the state. Hundreds of residences and a number of roads in the area were destroyed. At least 22 people were killed in the flooding and about 20 others remain missing.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On the afternoon of 22 August 2021, Tropical Storm Henri, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (100 kph), made landfall near Waverly, Rhode Island, a town located approximately 40 mi (65 km) south-southwest of the state capital Providence. Henri weakened into a tropical depression as it moved farther inland. The storm caused significant disruptions in the northeastern region, including in New York City — where multiple commuter train lines were suspended on 22 August. Additionally, both John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK/JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (KLGA/LGA), as well as New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR/EWR), experienced significant flight delays and cancellations. In Rhode Island, more than 100,000 homes and businesses were without power in the wake of Henri’s landfall; the latest reports indicate that more than 41,000 homes and businesses remain without electricity. Thus far, there have been no reports of significant injuries or deaths associated with the storm.
As of 0500 local time (0900 UTC) on 23 August, Tropical Depression Henri was located approximately 60 miles north-northwest of New York City, and about 90 miles west of Hartford, Connecticut, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Henri had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, with higher gusts, and was nearly stationary; the storm was moving east at 1 mph. On its current forecast track, Henri is expected to shift eastward later on 23 August. The storm is expected to produce additional rainfall of 1-3 in (25-75 mm), with locally higher amounts possible, over parts of Long Island, New England, southeastern New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania.
The storm-generated swells are expected to continue across much of the eastern coast of the U.S. and Atlantic Canada. These swells could cause hazardous surf and rip current conditions. Flood watches are currently in effect across parts of New England, Long Island, southeastern New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5) : On 23 August 2021, Western security forces — including U.S. and NATO troops — and Afghan guards exchanged gunfire with unknown assailants near the north gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport (OAKB/KBL) in the capital Kabul. At least one Afghan guard was killed, and three other guards suffered injuries. According to reports, the gunbattle began after the attackers fired on the airport guards.
Large crowds of people continue to gather outside the airport as foreign nationals and Afghan citizens attempt to evacuate the country. According to a U.S. military spokesperson, there are reports of Taliban soldiers physically assaulting U.S. nationals and Afghan citizens with proper visas traveling to Hamid Karzai International Airport. Additionally, Taliban leaders have announced that they are unwilling to extend the 31 August deadline for foreign forces to leave the country.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the Taliban announced that hundreds of Taliban fighters were traveling to Panjshir province — located approximately 125 km (80 mi) northeast of Kabul — in an attempt to gain control of the area after provincial leaders refused to hand over power to the Taliban. The province is home to thousands of anti-Taliban fighters, including Afghan military personnel and former Northern Alliance fighters who previously battled the Taliban, who call themselves the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. Leaders of the Taliban and the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan stated that they both remain open to dialogue.
In related developments, on 22 August a NATO official reported that at least 20 fatalities have occurred in and around Hamid Karzai International Airport since evacuation efforts began following the fall of the city to the Taliban on 15 August. The British Ministry of Defense confirmed on 22 August that at least seven people were killed during a stampede of people attempting to enter the airport on 21 August. Separately, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on 22 August that 18 aircraft from U.S. commercial air carriers have been activated to assist in the ongoing NATO-led evacuation efforts.
Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): Shortly after 1900 local time (1400 UTC) on 20 August 2021, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a vehicle that was transporting Chinese nationals on Eastbay Expressway in the Baluch Ward area of the southwestern city of Gwadar, located in Baluchistan province. Two bystanders were killed in the blast and three people, including the targeted vehicle’s driver and a Chinese national, were wounded. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. At least two other attacks targeting Chinese nationals occurred elsewhere in Pakistan in July; the outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Front separatist group claimed responsibility for the 28 July killing of a Chinese national in Karachi.
Portugal (Security threat level – 2): On 20 August 2021, officials announced that the country will enter the second phase of the government’s coronavirus-related reopening plan after fully vaccinating 70% of the population. As of 23 August, businesses, restaurants and cultural events no longer face constraints on operating hours and will be allowed to increase capacity limits to 75%. Additionally, public transport will no longer have limits on capacity. In order to dine indoors at restaurants on weekends and holidays, or patronize gyms, casinos or cultural establishments, as well as travel by air or sea, individuals will be required to obtain an EU COVID-19 digital certificate — more information is available here — or present a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test. Authorities noted that the country will enter phase three of the reopening plan upon reaching its goal of vaccinating 85% of eligible Portuguese.
Sweden (Security threat level – 2): On 22 August 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that he will resign from his position as prime minister and chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party in November 2021. On 21 June, Löfven became the first prime minister in Swedish history to lose a confidence vote in parliament. Löfven did not announce his successor as party leader. Parliament must approve any chosen successor before they will be allowed to take office as prime minister. Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for 22 September 2022.
North Macedonia (Security threat level – 3): On 20 August 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for North Macedonia, which reads in part as follows: “From 1 September, anyone arriving into North Macedonia from abroad will need to present either:
“Foreign nationals can transit through North Macedonia within 5 hours by producing a signed statement at the border.”