Worldview Security Update – July 8, 2019
8-Jul-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2):

At approximately 2020 local time on 5 July 2019 (0320 UTC on 6 July), a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck about 10 mi (17 km) north-northeast of Ridgecrest, California and about 150 mi northeast of the city of Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake had an estimated depth of 0.6 mi. Shaking was felt across California, including in Los Angeles, as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada and parts of northern Mexico.

The powerful earthquake caused multiple minor to moderate injuries and damage to infrastructure, including roadways, in areas near the quake’s epicenter. In Kern County — where Ridgecrest is located — there were reports of a number of fires, power outages and damaged structures. Meanwhile, in San Bernardino County, officials reported several cracked buildings and a number of injuries. However, there were no quake-related fatalities. Additionally, no damage or injuries occurred in major metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles. Flight operations at Ontario International Airport (KONT/ONT), located in San Bernardino County, and Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX/LAX) remained unaffected. The 7.1 magnitude earthquake followed a 6.4 magnitude quake that struck the same area in Southern California on 4 July.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3):

On 7 July 2019, tens of thousands of people marched through Hong Kong’s Yau Tsim Mong District, located on the western part of Kowloon Peninsula, to protest a controversial extradition bill. The march began near Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district and concluded at the West Kowloon railway station, where police officers had reportedly blocked access to the station. The gathering was largely peaceful; however, several hours after the initial march concluded, riot police officers dispersed a group of several hundred protesters who had gathered along Nathan Road and attempted to march north toward Mong Kok neighborhood. A series of clashes then followed as riot police officers used batons and formed a shield barrier on Nathan Road to disperse the remaining protesters. Authorities detained at least six protesters, but gradually cleared surrounding streets without further clashes.

Analyst Comment: The 7 July demonstration was the first protest against the extradition bill to occur in Kowloon; previously, associated protests had been confined to Hong Kong Island, primarily in the Central and Wan Chai districts. Organizers reportedly chose to conclude the march at West Kowloon railway station due to its status as the only railway station that connects Hong Kong to mainland China.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 2210 local time (1510 UTC) on 7 July 2019, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s North Maluku province. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was centered approximately 135 km (84 mi) west-southwest of Ternate and occurred at a depth of 36 km. Residents in the city of Ternate as well as in Mando, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi, felt the tremor. Following the quake, the Indonesian Geophysics Agency (BMKG) issued a tsunami warning for North Sulawesi and North Maluku provinces, which expired at approximately 0000 local time on 8 July. There were no reports of significant damage or injuries associated with the quake; however, at least one hospital in the city of Manado sustained damage and was evacuated. Additionally, there were reports of sporadic disruptions to communications throughout North Maluku province.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iran / Kuwait (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): At approximately 1130 local time (0700 UTC) on 8 July 2019, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck southwest Iran. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was centered approximately 30 km (19 mi) east-northeast of Ahvaz — the capital of Khuzestan province — and occurred at a depth of 10 km. Reports indicate at least one person was killed and 45 others were injured in the earthquake. Residents in Kuwait felt tremors during the quake, but Kuwaiti officials stated there were no reports of damage or casualties.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 5 July 2019, riot police officers clashed with protesters near the headquarters of the G5 Sahel military force — a West African regional security force — in Bamako’s Badalabougou area. Riot police officers fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, who burned tires, erected barriers on roads near the headquarters and threw stones at police officers. At least 35 protesters were injured during the clashes, seven vehicles were damaged and police officers arrested approximately 25 protesters. Local residents have been staging protests on a near weekly basis since the regional military headquarters was relocated to Bamako from the central Mopti region following a June 2018 terrorist attack.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 7 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe issued an updated Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Event: During last week’s demonstrations, organizers called for protests to resume on Monday, July 8. At this time, the U.S. Embassy has recommended mission personnel avoid non-essential travel on Monday.
  • “Due to skirmishes and looting associated with ongoing protests, all U.S. Embassy personnel are advised to avoid public gatherings as the security environment is unpredictable and can rapidly deteriorate with little-to-no notice.
  • “The U.S. Embassy will observe the holiday of Malawian Independence day on Monday, July 8th. There are planned celebrations in Blantyre to commemorate the occasion.
  • “Travel Restrictions for U.S. Embassy Personnel: Avoid non-essential travel outside of residential neighborhoods, and areas 10, 12, and 43. All official travel between cities, and return travel to Lilongwe must be approved by the acting RSO. Essential work is authorized in Lilongwe. Travel to Kamuzu International Airport is permitted.”
  • United States (Security threat level – 2): On 6 July 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the United States, which reads in part as follows:

  • “At 10.33am on Thursday 4 July, an earthquake struck southern California. The magnitude 6.4 tremor was centred about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San Bernardino and Kern counties meet. There have already been a number of aftershocks – including one on 5 July at 20:19 with a magnitude of 7.1 – and these are likely to continue. There are reports of fires and other damage in affected areas. If you’re in the area, you should follow local media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities. Further advice on preparing for and dealing with the effects of an earthquake is available on the Federal Emergency Management website.”
  • Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.