Worldview Security Update – August 12, 2019
12-Aug-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 12 August 2019, authorities suspended flight operations at Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) beginning at 1650 local time (0850 UTC) due to an impromptu protest by at least 5,000 anti-extradition protesters at the facility. Following the order, only flights that had previously boarded were allowed to take off; arrival flights were still permitted to land. Nevertheless, the order forced the cancellation of approximately 200 flights, including 70 planned arrivals. In an announcement, officials also warned passengers to depart the terminals as soon as possible. The warning prompted most of the protesters to depart the facility; however, reports indicate that hundreds of demonstrators remain at the airport. Meanwhile, congestion has been reported at the Airport Express railway line, which connects the airport to major urban areas in the city. Airport operations are scheduled to resume by 0600 local time on 13 August. However, Cathay Pacific Airways, the main Hong Kong-based airline, announced that all of its flights scheduled to operate through the airport have been canceled until the morning of 13 August. Protesters plan to return to the airport the same day, but the airport’s security procedures remain unknown. As a result, additional disruptions are possible. Organizers called for the protest in response to the alleged use of excessive police force during protests staged in the city the previous day. Protest organizers reportedly encouraged participants to disrupt operations at all of the airport’s terminals during the demonstration.

In addition, protesters conducted a “slow drive” protest beginning at 1400 local time on Tsing Ma Bridge, which connects Hong Kong International Airport with Hong Kong’s urban areas, causing traffic disruptions. Protesters later gathered outside police headquarters in Wan Chai to deliver a petition to authorities. However, there were no reports of violence associated with the demonstration.

On the previous day, thousands of protesters clashed with police officers in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Kwai Chung districts. During the demonstrations, protesters surrounded police stations, blocked roads and erected barricades, causing traffic disruptions. Police officers carried out baton charges, fired bean-bag rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas and arrested protesters, who threw bricks and Molotov cocktails in return. In Kwai Fong district, police officers fired tear gas at protesters inside the local Mass Transit Railway Station. At least 40 people were injured during the clashes.

Also on 11 August, a planned three-day sit-in protest in the Arrivals Hall of Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 1 concluded peacefully. There were no reports of disruptions during the 9-11 August protest.

Meanwhile, on 10 August protesters gathered in Hong Kong’s Tai Wai, Tai Po and Tsim Sha Tsui districts. The protesters initially marched in Tai Po and dispersed when police officers confronted them. The protesters then moved to the nearby Tai Wai and Tsim Sha Tsui districts. In Wai Tai district, police officers fired tear gas when groups of protesters erected barricades and blocked traffic at the Che Kung Miu Road roundabout, causing localized traffic disruptions. Police officers arrested at least 16 people, but there were no reports of injuries.

China (Security threat level – 3): As of 12 August 2019, Typhoon Lekima has caused widespread damage and disruptions to transportation services along the eastern coast of Zhejiang province and Shandong province. The storm prompted the cancellation of at least 3,200 flights and the suspension of several train services. Reports indicate that a limited number of high-speed railway lines have resumed services. Lekima also forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the region. For example, in Shandong province, authorities evacuated at least 180,000 people and closed popular tourist sites in the city of Qingdao, where authorities also suspended all long-distance bus and approximately 125 train services. Meanwhile, authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 1 million people in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, while more than 200,000 people were evacuated from Shanghai. Lekima also prompted the suspension of ferry and train services in Zhejiang province. In total, 44 people were killed due to the typhoon, including 18 people due to a landslide in Wenzhou municipality, which is located approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of Shanghai. Lekima is expected to weaken as it tracks northwest into the sea.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 12 August 2019, Tropical Storm Krosa – which has been downgraded from a typhoon — was located approximately 395 km (245 mi) west of Iwo Jima, and was moving northwest at 11 kph (7 mph). At that time, Krosa had maximum sustained winds of 102 kph with gusts up to 230 kph. Current forecasts indicate that Krosa could make landfall by 15 August in Yamaguchi prefecture, located near Kyushu and Shikoku islands. Despite being downgraded from a typhoon, Krosa may re-strengthen prior to making landfall.

EUROPE

Norway (Security threat level – 2): On 10 August 2019, a gunman wearing a helmet and carrying several firearms attacked al-Noor Islamic Centre, a mosque located in Oslo. The assailant fired several shots inside the building before one of three occupants of the building overpowered him. Although no one suffered gunshot wounds, one mosque attendee was injured in the attack. Police officers arrested the gunman and are investigating the incident as an act of terrorism. The assailant had previously expressed far-right views on online forums.

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): On 12 August 2019, the Portuguese government has instituted gas rationing across the country in response to the National Union of Drivers of Hazardous Material (SNMMP) and freight truck drivers beginning an indefinite strike over annual wage increases through 2022. The government has established a limit of 25 liters (6.6 gallons) for light vehicles and 100 liters for trucks. Government officials have guaranteed fuel to critical sectors — including hospitals, seaports, airports, military bases and emergency responders — and established minimum deliveries of 75% for public transportation and 50% for gas stations and food suppliers. Authorities have stated that roadblocks are possible, as union members will likely attempt to block fuel deliveries. Prime Minister Antonio Costa has asked unions to continue negotiations in an effort to avoid prolonged transportation disruptions.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 10 August 2019, tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered in cities across the country to protest the government’s decision to bar opposition candidates from participating in the September 2019 local elections. In the capital Moscow, officials estimated that at least 20,000 protesters gathered on Sakharov Prospect near Garden Ring Road, while protest organizers claimed that at least 50,000 people attended the demonstration. Police officers detained more than 220 protesters who attempted to push past police barriers toward the city center and presidential administration building. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, security forces detained more than 80 protesters during a rally in the city center. Additionally, an unspecified number of protesters were arrested at concurrent protests in the cities of Bryansk and Rostov-on-Don. There were no reports of significant clashes or injuries.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): On 9 August 2019, a major power outage affected large parts of the United Kingdom, including Midlands, the South East, the South West and Wales. The power outage disrupted transportation across London, including train services, which were canceled throughout the city. The outage also affected aviation; Newcastle Airport (EGNT/NCL) experienced a power cut that lasted approximately 15 minutes. Authorities attributed the outage to an unexpected drop in power production from an offshore wind generator as well as a natural gas generator.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 12 August 2019, a malfunction in the baggage sorting system at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG/TLV) — which lasted seven hours — briefly caused delays for outgoing flights. Reports indicate that the outage affected Terminal 3, the main international terminal at the facility, while Terminal 1 — used for domestic flights — was unaffected. A number of passengers on scheduled departing flights reportedly left without luggage.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Honduras, countrywide

"Event: Ongoing demonstrations against the Honduran government.

"Because of the ongoing demonstrations at or near National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), which at times have turned violent as they did on Wednesday, August 7, the U.S. Embassy has determined this area to be unsafe for U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members to transit. In Wednesday’s confrontation, police deployed tear gas in response to students throwing Molotov cocktails, bottle rockets (fireworks), and other projectiles at police. The previously restricted area in Colonia Kennedy continues to be off-limits for U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members. 

"U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members are, effective immediately, directed to avoid these two areas until further notice:

  • Colonia Kennedy: The area around Instituto Tecnico Honduras from Boulevard Kennedy (not including Blvd. Kennedy) and Primera Entrada of Colonia Kennedy to the Anillo Periferico.
  • Blvd. Supaya in front of National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) from Calle Trapiche (not including Calle Trapiche) to the Anillo Periferico at Blvd. Suyapa and the UNAH entrances from Villa Olimpica located on the north side of UNAH campus.

"Additionally, U.S. citizen embassy employees and family members should use caution while transiting through the following areas: 

  • Anillo Periferico near Blvd. Suyapa
  • The exit from Anillo Periferico to Danli
  • Blvd. Centroamerica continuing along Blvd. Kennedy"

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Department of State upgraded its travel advisory for Kyrgyzstan from "Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions" to "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution" due to civil unrest. The full text of the updated travel advisory can be viewed here.

Nicaragua (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Managua issued a Message regarding Dengue fever, which reads in part as follows:

"Nicaragua is reporting twice as many dengue fever cases as this time last year. The latest numbers from the Ministry of Health (MINSA), current through July, are 39,390 suspected cases, 1,316 lab-confirmed cases, and eight deaths. The majority of cases have been reported in Masaya, Managua and Carazo.