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Worldview Security Update – December 26, 2019


Chile (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 26 December 2019, approximately 1,000 people in the Chilean port city of Valparaíso remain without electricity following a large-scale wildfire that swept through the hilly outskirts of the city from 24-25 December. The city mayor declared a state of emergency on 25 December after the fire destroyed more than 200 homes in the San Roque and Rocuant neighborhoods. Residents of those neighborhoods had already fled their homes and there were no reports of injuries or fatalities. Authorities deployed military helicopters to drop thousands of gallons of water on the affected areas to battle the fire — which was extinguished in the urban areas early on 25 December — although it continues to affect the nearby forests. Chilean officials believe that the fire was the result of arson and have launched an investigation in an attempt to apprehend the perpetrator(s).

China (Security threat level – 3): On 26 December 2019, riot police officers and anti-government protesters engaged in sporadic clashes at shopping malls in Mong Kok, Tai Po and elsewhere in Hong Kong during the third consecutive day of the “Shop with You” protests. Police officers detained a number of protesters at the Mega Mall in Tai Po and deployed pepper spray against protesters inside the mall. A brief standoff between protesters and police officers occurred outside the entrance of the mall following the police operation, although there were no additional clashes. Largely peaceful demonstrations took place at several malls and shopping centers — including Sogo Mall in Causeway Bay and Moko Mall in Mong Kok — throughout the day. Additional demonstrations were set to occur at other malls such as Harbour City Plaza in Tsim Sha Tsui; however, the protests largely failed to materialize due to the presence of additional police officers performing ID checks at mall entrances and conducting patrols inside the buildings.

On 25 December police officers fired multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered in Mong Kok. Separately, police officers used pepper spray against protesters at the New Town Plaza in Sha Tin. Demonstrations began at several shopping centers — including Harbour City and New Town Plaza — earlier in the day; however, no significant violence occurred at those gatherings. Additional police officers were deployed to Portland Street in Mong Kok to perform ID checks while other units deployed to the shopping centers to control traffic. Authorities have arrested at least 150 protesters since 24 December, but there were no reports of serious casualties during clashes that occurred on 25-26 December.

Philippines / Vietnam (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 26 December 2019, Typhoon Phanfone was located approximately 1,080 km (670 mi) east-southeast of Da Nang, Vietnam, and was moving west-northwest at 13 kph (8 mph). At that time, Phanfone was generating maximum sustained winds of 148 kph, with gusts of up to 185 kph. Currently, the storm is forecast to dissipate without making landfall in Vietnam.

Phanfone made landfall in Eastern Samar province on 23 December and crossed the Philippines — where it is locally called “Ursula” — between 24 and 25 December. Heavy winds and rain destroyed homes and caused disruptions across the Eastern Visayas, southern Luzon and Western Visayas regions. Approximately 157 water vessels remained in port, while at least 115 domestic flights were canceled at airports in the country, resulting in approximately 20,000 travelers being stranded during the Christmas holiday. In addition, internet and mobile phone services in multiple areas, including Boracay island, remain disrupted on 26 December. Ferry services between Boracy and Aklan also remains suspended. The terminal building at Kalibo International Airport (RPVK/KLO) — located in Aklan province — sustained significant roof damage, forcing authorities to temporarily halt all flight operations. However, domestic flights at the facility reportedly resumed on the evening of 26 December, although international flights remain suspended. A total of 16 people were killed in the Philippines and at least five others remain missing following the passage of the typhoon.


France (Security threat level – 3): As of 26 December 2019, trade unions have entered the 22nd consecutive day of strikes against a proposed pension reform. Transportation disruptions are ongoing across the country and are expected to continue into January 2020. National rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) warned that only 50% of long-distance TGV trains, 20% of suburban Transilien trains and 40% of Transport express regional (TER) trains are currently operational. SNCF stated that it intends to increase operations and run 60% of TGV trains from 27-29 December and that all bookings would be guaranteed during that time period. In Paris, the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) continues to run significantly reduced services on the Paris Metro and the Réseau Express Régional (RER).

Additionally, leaders of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) have called for a large-scale demonstration in Paris on 28 December. The gathering is expected to begin at approximately 1300 local time (1200 UTC) at Gare du Nord station and march to the Place du Châtelet, which is located approximately 4 km (2 mi) from the station.


Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 26 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“Event: Holiday Security Message

“The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has announced it may implement the following precautionary measures on New Year’s Eve:

  1. Access to Baridhara and Gulshan Enclaves (Baridhara, Gulshan 1, 2, and Banani) will be more scrutinized on December 31, 2019, especially after 8:00 p.m. When traveling outside of the Baridhara and Gulshan enclave areas, local police are advising residents to exercise more caution as roadblocks will be utilized.
  2. Outdoor celebrations are prohibited including on building rooftops.
  3. Fireworks are not permitted.
  4. Gatherings are not permitted at Dhaka University, and access to the campus will be restricted after 6:00 p.m.

“U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise increased vigilance during the holiday season. Please be aware of surroundings, review personal security plan, monitor local media for updates, and keep mobile phones accessible in case of emergency.”