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Argentina: Carnivorous Fish Attck Tourists

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Tourists enjoying a sunny Christmas holiday on the Parana River near Rosario experienced a horrible surprise when a swarm of carnivorous fish attacked 70 swimmers, including a young child who had part of her finger amputated. The palometas fish, a relative of the piranha, sometimes bites swimmers but an event of this magnitude is extremely rare, officials said. Nearly 200 miles away, roads to Buenos Aires were blocked by demonstrators angry about recent power cuts in the midst of the country’s brutal heat wave. Temperatures have climbed over 100 degrees and many neighborhoods have been without power for more than two weeks. Protestors are concerned about the vulnerability of the more at-risk residents, but officials say the government is supplying emergency assistance for those in need.

Honduras: State Department Issues Travel Warning

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The U.S. State Department reissued a travel warning for Honduras Dec. 24, citing high levels of crime and violence as grounds for added precautions. The country has had the highest murder rate in the world since 2010, with roughly 81 murders per 100,000 people for January through November 2013. Though U.S. citizens are not specifically targets of crime, the warning advised that tourists travel in large groups, refrain from wearing jewelry or carrying large amounts of cash. Travelers should be vigilant of surroundings at all times and should not walk alone after dark.

Indonesia: Series of Volcanic Eruptions at Mt. Sinabung

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Nearly 20,000 people fled their homes in Sumatra as the island’s Mt. Sinabung volcano erupted at least nine times Dec. 30. The volcano shot lava and gas 23,000 feet into the air and a three-mile danger zone has been enforced around the crater. The volcano was dormant for 400 years before erupting in 2010, killing two people. Officials have reported an increase in activity in recent months and visitors should take caution while in the area. On the island of Bali, tourists were warned of a different threat after a python killed a security guard at a hotel near Sanur beach. The snake is estimated to be 15 feet long and escaped into the bushes near the Bali Hyatt. If spotted, the snake should be avoided and reported to officials immediately.

Russia:More Violence in Volgograd

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A fresh surge in violence rocked the nation just a month shy of the winter Olympic games. Two bombings claimed the lives of more than 30 people at a train station and on a trolley bus in the southern city of Volgograd. The December 29 and 30 blasts injured another 60, and 5,000 police were deployed to patrol public transit and traffic in the area. New Year’s celebrations were canceled in the city as reports said that President Vladimir Putin vowed to fight “terrorists until their complete annihilation.” Officials say that the winter games in Sochi, about 14 hours away, will have the most extensive security measures in place than any other Olympic sporting event.

UK: New Law For Medical Visits

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

In an attempt to discourage abuse of the medical system, the British government has announced plans to require migrants and international tourists to pay for any medical attention received in the country. The new law includes emergency medical services and minor surgeries performed in physicians’ offices. The plan, which will be formally announced in March, says that though payment will be expected during emergency room visits, no one would be refused treatment.

China: Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

The Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28, giving travelers easier access to lesser-known tourist spots along China’s southern coast, including Shantou and Haifeng. The railway covers just over 300 miles and travels at a speed of nearly 125 miles per hour. The coastal city of Xiamen is expected to see a spike in visitors and along with it, an increase in tourism infrastructure, including new hotels and other tourist facilities.

Category: General info, China

Egypt: The U.S. Department of State Reissues Travel Alert

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel alert for Egypt Dec. 18, just days before a car bomb killed 14 people at a police compound in Mansoura, 80 miles north of Cairo. The Dec. 24 bombing appears to have targeted police, but reports indicated that several civilians were also killed or injured in the blast. The country continues to experience political unrest since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July. The travel alert strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful protests can quickly become violent.

Russia: CDC Recommends Precautions for Winter Games

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding those who plan to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to be current with vaccines and is recommending the Hepatitis A vaccine for most travelers. Visitors should also be aware that proof of medical insurance that covers treatment in Russia is required to obtain a visa. In addition, many equality activists are calling for a boycott of the winter games, as the country passed a law that criminalizes promoting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) equality in public. Foreigners found guilty can face a fine of up to $3,100, 14 days in jail and deportation. Crimes against members of the LGBT community have often been dismissed and LGBT Americans should take precautions while traveling in Russia.

Thailand: Protestors Continue to Fill Streets in Bangkok

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Protests continue in Bangkok, most recently with thousands of demonstrators attempting to block political candidates from registering at a sports stadium. Tens of thousands also marched in the streets Dec. 22 and protests are expected to continue while political candidates register over the next two weeks, moving toward the country’s February 2014 election date. The demonstrators are calling for government reform and for current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to step down.

Turkey: Fresh Protests in Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Police fired water cannons, smoke grenades and teargas to break-up crowds of protestors at Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square Dec. 22. What was meant to be an action against the government’s construction and development plans in the city’s threatened green spaces quickly turned into protests over recent corruption and bribery scandals involving government officials and at least one bank chief. Visitors should follow local news and avoid large crowds in the area.

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