Worldview Security Update – October 31, 2019
31-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 30 October 2019, security personnel used water cannons to disperse protesters near La Moneda Palace in downtown Santiago. Demonstrations — which were generally peaceful — had been ongoing for approximately four hours in front of the palace before security personnel intervened. Transportation officials suspended service at several nearby metro stations due to the unrest. In Concepción, security personnel detained at least 46 protesters after some of the demonstrators began to loot retail stores and pharmacies during a peaceful protest. In Temuco, security personnel deployed tear gas canisters to disperse protesters. While there are no planned demonstrations for 31 October, sporadic protests may still occur.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 31 October 2019, firefighters continue to battle several wildfires across the state of California. The governor has implemented a state of emergency and High Wind Warnings for several counties affected by the wildfires. Across the state, wildfire incidents have burned approximately 163,000 acres (65,960 hectares) of land and threatened more than 600 structures. At least three wildfire-related fatalities have been reported thus far.  Additional details regarding fires burning across the state of California can be found here .

In Southern California, the Hillside Fire in Riverside County is threatening residences and has prompted evacuation warnings for areas across northern San Bernardino. Several road closures are in effect, including portions of highways 18 and 60. The fire has consumed at least 600 acres and is 30% contained. Early on 31 October, a rapidly growing brush fire – dubbed 46 Fire – also broke out in Riverside County in the Jurupa Valley area, prompting evacuations in several neighborhoods. The 46 Fire has destroyed at least four structures so far and is currently uncontained. Meanwhile, the Easy Fire near Simi Valley in Ventura County has affected approximately 1,500 acres of land and is 10% contained. Live updates on the fire and evacuation information for areas in Southern California are available here .

In Northern California, the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County has consumed at least 76,825 acres (31,090 hectares) of land and was 60% contained as of late on 30 October. The blaze has destroyed more than 260 structures and continues to threaten over 80,000 buildings, most of which are homes. A map displaying real-time fire and evacuation information for Sonoma County is available here .

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Multiple protests are scheduled for the weekend of 1-3 November 2019 in Hong Kong. Beginning at 1230 and 1245 local time 0430 and 0445 UTC) on 1 November flash mob demonstrations are expected to be held at Chater Garden in Central and InPARK in Kwun Tong. On 2 November a rally to reiterate the protest movement’s five demands is scheduled to begin at 1500 local time at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. Turnout is likely to be high as organizers of a separate protest on 3 November canceled the event and urged attendees to participate in the 2 November rally.

Separately, during the evening of 31 October police officers fired tear gas at demonstrators gathered along Nathan Road outside of Prince Edward MTR station in Hong Kong’ Mong Kok district. The protesters gathered at the station to mark the two month anniversary of violence at the station between police officers and demonstrators, which sparked rumors of possible deaths. MTR authorities closed the station early at 1400 local time. Simultaneously protesters gathered at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 2000 local time and began marching to Lan Kwai Fong — a popular nightlife location — in Central. Police officers previously cordoned off Lan Kwai Fong to accommodate Halloween revelers. As of the most recent reports, large crowds have gathered in the area, and there is also a large police presence. MTR authorities also closed the nearby Central MTR station at 2100 local time.

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 31 October 2019, a fire broke out on board a passenger train traveling from Karachi to Rawalpindi near Rahim Yar Khan — located in the south of Punjab province — after a gas cylinder on a stove that passengers were using to cook food exploded. The fire spread throughout the train and destroyed at least three carriages. According to survivors, the train took nearly 20 minutes to stop after the initial blast, prompting passengers to attempt to escape the blaze by jumping from the moving train. At least 73 passengers were killed and approximately 40 others were injured; at least 11 people are in critical condition. Many of the casualties occurred when the passengers jumped off the moving train. A large number of the travelers were heading to a conference organized by the Tablighi Jamaat Sunni Muslim missionary movement. Authorities have ordered an investigation into the accident.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On the morning of 31 October 2019, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck about 9 km (6 mi) east of Kisante, located in Cotabato province on southern Mindanao Island and about 30 km from Davao City, causing structural damage and casualties across the island. The quake struck at a shallow depth of 10 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake caused structural damage to several buildings across Mindanao, including in Davao City, the Cotabato provincial capital Kidapawan City — where the Eva Hotel partially collapsed — and Makilala town, which is located about 10 km west of Kisante. In addition, the quake partially damaged a concrete highway connecting Davao City and Makilala town. At least five people were killed — including two in Makilala town — and dozens more were injured; many of the casualties were caused by falling debris. Emergency personnel rescued at least nine people from a collapsed condominium in Davao City.

This is the third destructive earthquake in the area this month. A similar shallow 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck on 28 October in an area 15 km east of Bual, which is located approximately 55 km from Kisante caused at least eight fatalities, left 395 people injured and damaged at least 2,700 structures throughout Mindanao, including at least 60 structures in Davao City. Previously, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in the same region on 16 October killed at least seven people, injured more than 200 others and damaged or destroyed at least 7,000 structures across Mindanao.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 30 October 2019, unidentified militants fired at least two mortar shells into Baghdad’s International Zone (IZ), where a number of foreign embassies are located. The shells landed approximately 50 meters (165 ft) from the U.S. Embassy compound, killing one Iraqi soldier. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Analyst Comment: This most recent mortar attack is consistent with previous unclaimed mortar and rocket attacks on the IZ. Travelers should monitor developments closely, even in the relative safety of the IZ.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 31 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Chile, which reads in part as follows:

"Following civil unrest across Chile you should expect to see a military presence in major cities. Further large demonstrations are expected in Santiago and other cities. Under Chilean law, foreign nationals visiting or living in Chile could be deported for involvement in protests and demonstrations. You should follow the instructions and advice of the local authorities, remain vigilant, monitor local media for updates and avoid protests and demonstrations.

"All of Santiago’s public transport – including the metro and buses – is running a very limited service at this time. Public transport in other cities may be affected. Some banks, shopping malls and supermarkets are operating reduced hours or remaining closed.

"Some domestic and international flights have been delayed or cancelled in recent days. You should check the status of your flight with your airline before travelling to the airport.

"Some land border crossing points between Chile and the neighbouring countries of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru are currently being closed overnight. If you plan to cross any land border point, check with authorities for exact closure times prior to travel."

Guinea-Bissau (Security threat level – 4): On 30 October 2019, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) updated its travel advisory for Guinea-Bissau to include the following:

“Demonstrations have taken place in Bissau. Due to the tense political climate, these demonstrations could lead to violence. Past demonstrations have resulted in a death and several injuries.

“Be extremely vigilant if you’re travelling in the affected areas.”

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 31 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Thailand to include the following: “Bangkok hosts the 2019 ASEAN Leaders’ Summit from 31 October to 4 November. There will be an increased police and security presence in Bangkok during this time, and there may be disruption to local traffic routes.”