Worldview Security Update – September 3, 2019
3-Sep-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the morning of 2 September 2019, a fire broke out on a 75-foot diving boat off the coast of Santa Cruz, California. The U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call from the vessel at 0330 local time (1030 UTC) indicating that the boat – which had at least 39 people on board — was on fire. The flames kept most of the passengers trapped below deck and they were unable to escape the vessel. Officials confirmed that divers have recovered the bodies of 25 people, while nine others remain missing. Five crew members were the only survivors. The cause of the blaze remains unknown.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 31 August 2019, a gunman armed with a military grade assault rifle opened fire at random while police officers chased him through the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa. The event began after two police officers on patrol stopped the motorist on a highway between the two cities for a minor traffic violation. The assailant then opened fire on the officers, fled the scene and started shooting at motorists and passersby. During the episode, the gunman hijacked a U.S. Postal Service truck and continued the assault. Police officers later shot and killed the gunman at the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa. The assailant killed seven people and wounded 25 others. While authorities have launched an investigation in an attempt to determine a definitive motive for the killings, the perpetrator had been fired from his job earlier in the day and had made a call to authorities to express his resentment over the expulsion. 

United States / Bahamas (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On the morning of 3 September 2019, Dorian — a Category 2 hurricane — began to slowly move in a northwesterly direction toward the eastern coast of the United States. As of 1200 UTC, Dorian was located approximately 110 mi (175 km) east-northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, and about 40 mi northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that point, the hurricane was generating maximum sustained winds of 120 mph with higher gusts. On the current forecast track, Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through the evening hours of 3 September before approaching the eastern coast of Florida between the late hours of 3 September and the evening of 4 September. Dorian will then get closer to the coastal areas of the states of Georgia and South Carolina on 4-5 September before approaching or passing over North Carolina in the late hours of 5 September.

As of the latest reports, nearly 1,600 flights to and from U.S. airports have been canceled on 3 September due to the storm. Flight operations at Florida’s Orlando International Airport (KMCO/MCO) ceased beginning at 0200 local time (0600 UTC) on 3 September, whereas more than 285 flights scheduled to operate through Fort Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL/FLL) have been canceled. States of emergency remain in effect in Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia to prepare for the potential effects of the storm in those states.

Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas have begun to assess hurricane-related damage. The most significant effects of the storm — which made landfall on the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 hurricane on 1 September — appear to be on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Freeport’s Grand Bahama international Airport (MYGF/FPO) sustained significant damage and was inundated with 6 ft (1.8 meters) of water; Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (MYAM/MHH) — located in Abaco Islands’ March Harbour — also remains closed due to flood-related damage. Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN/NAS) remains open and operational; however, a significant number of planned flights have been canceled. According to reports, at least 13,000 residences on the Abaco Islands have been destroyed and at least five people have been reported killed thus far. The U.S. Coast Guard has deployed to Abaco Islands to assist the government and to conduct search and rescue operations.

A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwest Bahamas as well as from Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Meanwhile a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect in areas from north of Deerfield Beach, Florida, to Jupiter Inlet and areas north of Ponte Vedra Beach to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and from Ponte Vedra Beach to South Santee River, South Carolina, while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for areas north of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach as well as for Lake Okeechobee, Florida. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Lantana, Florida, to the Savannah River. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to south of Lantana, and from the Savannah River to South Santee River, South Carolina. Storm surge on Grand Bahama Island will raise water levels by 10-15 ft above normal tide levels; in the U.S., storm surges of up to 4-7 ft are possible in coastal areas from Florida’s Flagler/Volusia County Line to South Santee River, South Carolina, and approximately 3-5 ft in areas from Lantana to the border between Flagler and Volusia counties. In addition, storm surges of between 2-4 ft are expected in areas north of Deerfield Beach to Lantana.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 2200 local time (1730 UTC) on 2 September 2019, a suicide bomber detonated a large truck bomb near Kabul’s Green Village neighborhood, which houses several U.N. and international aid offices. Following the explosion, militants launched an armed assault on the area, which lasted for several hours. According to officials, at least 16 people were killed and approximately 120 others were injured in the attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that it was in response to security raids conducted by Afghan and U.S. forces in other areas of the country.

China (Security threat level – 3): On 31 August 2019, riot police officers clashed with anti-government protesters across Hong Kong. Riot police deployed tear gas at demonstrators on Harcourt Road near the Legislative Council (LegCo) building and the police headquarters in Admiralty district. Clashes escalated after demonstrators attempted to dismantle barricades in front of the LegCo building and threw Molotov cocktails and bricks at the officers, who responded with multiple rounds of tear gas and deployed a water cannon containing blue dye to disperse the protesters. Simultaneous clashes occurred as riot police moved to disperse demonstrators across Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Kowloon, Mong Kok and Wan Chai districts. Police officers reportedly fired two live rounds into the air in Victoria Park as a warning to demonstrators, who immediately fled the scene. Additionally, at least 32 Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations sustained damage in the violence.

On 1 September demonstrators blocked access to Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH//HKG). Demonstrators set up blockades on Airport Road and traffic was further constricted by the presence of additional police checkpoints on the road. Airport officials stated that at least 25 flights were canceled, and there were widespread disruptions to public transportation, including bus and MTR service to and from the facility. Officials stated that clashes between police officers and protesters caused damage to 12 rail stations. The Airport Express train service from Hong Kong Station to Airport / AsiaWorld-Expo Station was suspended, along with service from Tsing Yi and AsiaWorld Expo Stations. Airport Express services resumed by 2230 local time (1430 UTC), and services on the other lines have since resumed as well. Police officers arrested at least 63 individuals involved in the protests, including two local legislators.

On 2 September protesters targeted MTR stations during the morning rush hour, preventing train doors from closing on several main lines. The protests caused major delays on the rail network, but did not devolve into violence. Police officers dispersed protests at the Lok Fu Station in the Wong Tai Sin district along the Kwun Tong Line, where at least one person was arrested. Despite a call for a citywide general strike on 2 September, the MTR protests were the only notable disruption.

Taiwan / China / Japan (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 3 September 2019, Tropical Storm Lingling was located approximately 735 km (455 mi) south-southwest of Japan’s Kadena Air Base, and was moving north at 17 kph (10 mph). At that time, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 111 kph with gusts of up to 139 kph. Lingling is currently forecast to continue on its northern track, and make landfall in South Korea by 7 September. The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to parts of Japan’s Ryukyu islands, the eastern portion of Taiwan and parts of eastern China, including Shanghai. Rainfall between 75 and 150 mm (3 and 6 in) is possible in the affected areas.

Vietnam / China (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 3 September 2019, Tropical Depression Kajiki was located approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Da Nang, Vietnam, and was moving east-northeast at 17 kph (10 mph). At that time, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 56 kph, with gusts of up to 74 kph. Current forecasts indicate that Kajiki will pass near China’s Hainan island, and could bring heavy rainfall to the island as well as to coastal areas of southern China.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 31 August 2019, a stabbing attack occurred in the parking lot of Laurent Bonnevay metro station, located approximately 10 km (6 mi) east of central Lyon in the suburb of Villeurbanne. At least one person was killed and nine others were injured in the attack. Police officers arrested the perpetrator, who – according to authorities — suffers from mental illness. While preliminary reports indicate that the event was not terrorism-related, an investigation into the attack remains under way.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel / Lebanon (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 1 September 2019, clashes broke out between Israeli military forces and Lebanese Hizballah militants on Israel’s northern border. The clashes began when Hizballah militants fired two anti-tank missiles at Israeli military positions along Israel’s northern border. One of the missiles destroyed an Israeli military ambulance, while the second landed in an open area. Israeli forces responded by firing 100 artillery shells at Hizballah positions in Lebanon. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials briefly opened bomb shelters in communities along the border with Lebanon, but closed them after the exchange ended. There were no reports of casualties in the incident.

Libya (Security threat level – 5) : On 2 September 2019, officials with the Civil Aviation Authority — affiliated with the internationally -recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) — announced that flights at Mitiga International Airport (HLLM/MJI) will be suspended until further notice due to the ongoing fighting. The authority’s decision follows reports of heavy artillery shelling during fighting on the evening of 31 August. The extent of the damage at the facility remains unclear, and it is unknown when the facility will resume operations. Mitiga airport is Tripoli’s primary international airport and has been closed numerous times since the beginning of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) offensive on Tripoli in April 2019.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): As of 3 September 2019, sporadic clashes are ongoing between security personnel and protesters in several townships in Gauteng province. During the morning hours, police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters who attempted to loot several businesses in Alexandra township, located approximately 18 km (11 mi) north of Johannesburg’s city center. There were no reports of injuries. On the previous day, disruptive protests occurred in the Jeppestown, Malvern, Hillbrow, Tembisa and Turffontein townships. Police officers arrested more than 60 people in connection with incidents of looting, vandalism and arson. The protests were initially triggered by the killing of a taxi driver — allegedly by foreign nationals involved in drug-related activity — in Pretoria on 27 August.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 3 September 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Rte Freres and Delmas 95

"Events: Reports of burning tires in the vicinity of Rte Freres and Delmas 95."

India (Security threat level – 3): On 3 September 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai issued a Security Alert regarding the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India "Event: Mumbai’s annual Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganesh Immersion) festival takes place from September 2–12, and features large crowds and street parades that can cause serious traffic disruptions throughout the city
"Actions to Take: U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise caution and make informed personal security choices during the festival season. The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai reminds U.S. citizens in Western India that large gatherings remain potential targets for terrorist groups, and also provide conditions for crimes of opportunity such as pickpocketing and assault. Please review the Safety and Security section on the State Department’s country information page for India for additional information and recommendations."

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 3 September 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Mozambique, which reads in part as follows: “His Holiness Pope Francis is visiting Maputo from 4 to 6 September 2019 and will have engagements at the Palacio da Ponta Vermelha, Maxaquene Pavilion, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Zimpeto Hospital, Zimpeto Stadium and Maputo airport. There will be traffic restrictions and road closures in place from 8am on 5 September until 6 September. Areas affected include Avenida Julius Nyerere, Avenida 24 de Julho, Avenida Vladimir Lenine, Avenida Zedequias Manganhela, Maxaquene Pavilion and Catedral/Idependencia square. If you’re attending events during the papal visit, follow the instructions and advice of municipality police and remain vigilant – criminals will often exploit large crowds.”

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 30 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Sudan, which reads in part as follows: "A state of emergency has been declared in Port Sudan following recent violent clashes between tribal groups. A local curfew is in place and additional security measures have been introduced, including a sizeable army deployment to restore order. If you’re in Port Sudan, follow the instructions of local authorities, observe the curfew and avoid large crowds."