Worldview Security Update – September 5, 2019
5-Sep-19

AMERICAS

Bahamas (Security threat level – 2): As of 5 September 2019, recovery efforts in northwestern Bahamas are ongoing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which caused significant damage in the region, particularly on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Power and telecommunications outages are widespread on both islands and there have been reports of fuel shortages on Grand Bahama; images on social media platforms showed long queues of locals outside gas station in Freeport. Food and other essential items are also reportedly in short supply on both islands. There have been isolated reports of looting on the affected islands, and the Bahamian government has deployed hundreds of security personnel to the islands in an effort to maintain law and order. Meanwhile, U.N. officials have stated that approximately 70,000 residents are in “immediate need” of aid.

At present, Freeport’s Grand Bahama International Airport (MYGF/FPO) and Marsh Harbour’s Leonard Thompson International Airport (MYAM/MHH) remain closed, while Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN/NAS) is open and operational. High waters remain in the majority of the Abaco Islands, while floodwaters on Grand Bahama have largely receded. Authorities put the latest death count at 17 fatalities on Abaco Island and three others on Grand Bahama. The death toll is expected to rise notably in the coming days. 

United States (Security threat level – 2): Late on 4 September 2019, Hurricane Dorian regained strength to become a Category 3 storm. As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 5 September, Dorian was located approximately 70 mi (115 km) south-southeast Charleston, South Carolina, and about 170 mi south-southwest of the city of Wilmington, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, the hurricane was moving north at a speed of 8 mph (13 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph with higher gusts. On the current forecast track, Dorian will continue to move close to the South Carolina coast on 5 September before passing over or near the coastal area of neighboring North Carolina on 5-6 September. The center of the storm is then forecast to pass over southeast of far southeastern New England on 6-7 September.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the coastal areas of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are currently under mandatory evacuation orders. As of last report, more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the region were without electricity; nearly 160,000 of those without power were in South Carolina. Charleston International Airport (KCHS/CHS) ceased flight operations at 1500 local time on 4 September and flights through the facility are currently expected to resume on the morning of 6 September. Thus far, there have been two storm-related fatalities: one in Florida and another in North Carolina. According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official, 4,000 emergency responders, 6,000 National Guard troops, and 40,000 utility workers are standing by to respond as the hurricane continues on its track.

At present, a Hurricane Warning is in effect in areas from Georgia’s Savannah River to the border-line of North Carolina and Virginia, as well as the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds in North Carolina. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the North Carolina and Virginia border-line to Chincoteague, Virginia, and in areas south of Smith Point, Virginia, along Chesapeake Bay. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for areas from the Savannah River to Poquoson, Virginia; Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, North Carolina; Neuse and Pamlico Rivers; and Virginia’s Hampton Roads. Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for areas north of Chincoteague, Virginia, to Fenwick Island, Delaware; Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point to Drum Point Maryland; Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island, Maryland; Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach as well as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

The hurricane is expected to produce 6-12 inches (150-305 mm) of rain in the coastal areas of South and North Carolina, with isolated maximums of up to 15 inches, and 3-8 inches of rain in low-lying areas of southeastern Virginia. Additionally, and 1-2 inches of rain is in the forecast for coastal areas of Georgia and 2-4 inches of rain is likely in far southeastern New England. Hazardous flash floods are possible in the aforementioned areas. Tornadoes remain a possibility near the coastal areas located close to the border between North and South Carolina later in the afternoon hours of 5 September; the rest of eastern North Carolina also faces the threat of tornadoes between from the afternoon through the nighttime hours.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 5 September 2019, a car bomb detonated near a security checkpoint in the Shashdarak area of Kabul’s Police District 9 near the Green Zone, which houses a number of foreign embassies. At least 10 people, including a U.S. soldier and his Romanian counterpart, were killed and approximately 40 others were wounded in the bombing. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On the morning of 5 September 2019, an express train with 500 passengers on board collided with a truck at a railway crossing in Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city. The first three carriages of the eight-car train derailed following the collision, while the truck caught fire and was crushed between the train and a wall. The accident occurred on the railway line that links the city to the capital Tokyo and forced authorities to temporarily halt services on the line. The driver of the vehicle involved was killed and at least 34 train passengers were injured in the accident.

North Korea / South Korea / Taiwan / Japan / China (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 2 / 1 / 3): As of 0900 UTC on 5 September 2019, Typhoon Lingling was located approximately 300 km (185 mi) west-southwest of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and was moving northward at 15 kph (9 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 212 kph, with gusts of up to 260 kph. Lingling is currently forecast to continue on its northern track, and make landfall in North Korea’s South Hwanghae province — which partially borders 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 of between 75-150 mm (3-6 in), with isolated maximums of 300 mm, is in the forecast for the affected areas, especially over the Korean Peninsula. The heavy rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods in the region. 

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Jordan (Security threat level – 3): On 5 September 2019, Jordanian security forces deployed tear gas to disperse a group of teachers protesting in Amman’s 4th Circle neighborhood. Police officers fired tear gas canisters toward the demonstrators after they attempted to march from the square in front of the House of Representatives to the interior ministry, which officials specifically forbade prior to the protest. Reports also indicate that police officers used batons to disperse the crowd, but there were no reports of casualties. A teachers’ union organized the protest to call for a 50% increase in salaries.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Niger (Security threat level – 5): As of 5 September 2019, widespread flooding continues to affect a number of locations in Niger — including the capital Niamey — following several days of heavy rainfall. Thus far, the flooding has affected approximately 70,000 people and caused 42 fatalities nationwide. According to authorities, the highest number of flood-related fatalities has been reported in the Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder regions. Meanwhile, in Niamey, flooding has affected approximately 420 residences. Kirkissoye district is the worst-affected in the capital, although the risk of flooding is highest in the Kirkissoye, Saga and Saguia districts. Authorities issued a “red alert” on 4 September and have urged residents in flood-prone areas of the Niamey region — where the capital is located — to evacuate. Heavy rains are in the forecast for the next several weeks.

Nigeria / South Africa (Security threat levels – 5 / 4): On 5 September 2019, no significant episodes of violence have been reported in Nigeria following protests in several cities — including in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan — on 3-4 September. A number of major South African-owned commercial establishments across Nigeria — including all locations of Shoprite Supermarket, as well as offices of MTN, a South African telecommunications provider — remain closed following the 3-4 September violence and looting targeting these businesses. Nigerian officials have stationed additional police officers near these sites in an effort to deter further violence. Recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s Gauteng province prompter the protests.

Meanwhile, on 5 September South African authorities temporarily suspended operations at the country’s High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, and Consulate General in Lagos, citing concerns regarding the safety of its staff members. The decision follows the recent attacks on foreign-owned businesses in Gauteng province, as well as threats and retaliatory violence targeting South African-owned businesses in several cities across Nigeria. Since the violence began in Gauteng on 1 September, at least seven migrants have been killed in xenophobic attacks, primarily in townships outside of Johannesburg.  No information is available regarding the resumption of South Africa’s embassy operations in Nigeria.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): On 5 September 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa issued Health Alert regarding health checkpoints, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Congo’s Nord-Kivu, Ituri, and Sud-Kivu Provinces

"Event: To control the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) authorities continue to establish health check points throughout the Nord-Kivu, Ituri, and Sud-Kivu Provinces, including in the cities of Goma, Beni, and Butembo and in Virunga National Park. New checkpoints may be created with little notice.

"You may encounter health checkpoints at the land border crossing connecting Goma, DRC to Gisenyi, Rwanda at the pedestrian (Petite Barrière) and vehicular (Grande Barrière) crossing points. These checks may slow border crossings.

"There are at least three health checkpoints in Virunga National Park set up by the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) at the Rwindi bridge on the Goma-Butembo axis in Rutshuru territory, at the Semuliki bridge, and Kambo ferry in Beni territory.

"Over 3,000 cases of Ebola Virus Disease and 2,000 deaths have been confirmed in the three provinces of Nord-Kivu, Ituri, and Sud-Kivu in the DRC since the first confirmed case was reported in August, 2018. In August 2019, cases were confirmed in Mwenga, Sud-Kivu.

"The CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Notice for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. EVD is one of the hemorrhagic fever illnesses. It is transmitted through direct contact with infected persons or their blood, bodily fluids and secretions; through direct contact (handling or washing) with infected corpses; or through contact with objects that have been in contact with infected secretions.

"Actions to Take:

  • Be prepared to stop at all checkpoints, follow the instructions of authorities, and experience delays in travel.
  • Provide for extra time to clear health checks at the Goma International Airport. 
  • Follow instructions of authorities at all health checkpoints, which may include temperature testing, handwashing, and personal registration. Expect waits and exercise patience at all checkpoints.
  • Always carry a local identification or your passport with a valid DRC visa in case you are stopped at a checkpoint. 
  • Take active steps – including malaria prophylaxis – to avoid malaria and other insect-borne and gastrointestinal illnesses that may mimic EVD symptoms and lead to preventable health scares."

India (Security threat level – 3): On 4 September 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai issued a Weather Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Mumbai, India

“Event: U.S. citizens in Mumbai are urged to exercise great caution and avoid travel in flooded areas. Many major roads are flooded and impassable. Rains are expected to continue through at least Thursday, September 5, 2019. Indian authorities have advised people to remain indoors. Local emergency services remain functional, but may not be available in all areas due to the flooding.

“The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai will be closed to the public for routine visa and consular services on Thursday, September 5.”