World Travel Watch: Strikes in Belgium and Greece, Bombing in India and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
02.17.10 | 11:38 AM ET
World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.
Australia: Measles Outbreak in Whitsundays, Queensland
Queensland health authorities issued a warning about a measles outbreak in the Whitsunday region after confirming a diagnosis in a foreign tourist who spent five days at Airlie Beach at the beginning of February. The warning affected the areas around Airlie Beach on the mainland and the Whitsunday Islands off the coast because of the large number of visitors who travel throughout the region. Both the islands and Airlie Beach are popular tourist destinations, and measles can be a serious illness for adolescents and adults who were not exposed to it as children or did not get vaccinated for it in childhood. Symptoms usually begin about 10 days after exposure and include fever, lethargy, moist cough, sore eyes and a blotchy rash.
Belgium: Train Strikes Follow Deadly Collision
Following a head-on train collision that killed 18 people and injured scores, train drivers staged wildcat strikes across the country to protest poor working conditions. Strikes were expected to last until at least the weekend, disrupting train travel to and within Belgium. An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
Greece: Strikes Greet EU Economic Pressure, More to Come
A financial crisis prompted the EU to pressure the government to impose austerity measures, triggering strikes across the country, first with civil servants shutting down schools and grounding flights, then customs officials walking out for three days to disrupt imports and exports and possibly cause fuel shortages. A broader strike is scheduled for Feb. 24 and could disrupt services of all sorts, including hospitals, transit and air service. More trouble looms on March 16, when Greece must report back to the EU on its progress in deficit reduction. If the progress isn’t adequate, the EU could ask for tougher measures, further inflaming the populace.
India: Pune Bakery Bombing Hit Foreigners’ Hangout
A bomb blast that killed 10 people in the German Bakery restaurant in Pune Feb. 13 served as a reminder that terrorists can and will target places where foreigners congregate. The incident occurred at the bakery popular with foreigners the day after India and Pakistan announced a resumption of talks that were abandoned after the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. A previously unknown Islamic group that said it splintered from the group responsible for the 2008 attack claimed responsibility, and police have suspects in custody. Many foreign embassies, including the U.S., British and Australian missions, advised their citizens to remain alert to their surroundings.
Mexico: U.S. Consulate Warns About Sinaloa Highway Bandits
The U.S. Consulate General in Hermosillo warned Feb. 12 about frequent highway robberies in Sinaloa on both toll roads and free roads that typically occur after dark. Armed men commonly pull up behind the victim’s vehicle flashing lights like a police car, wave them over to the side of the road or down a side road, where armed accomplices wait to steal their money and valuables at gun point, and sometimes take their car. Recently three such robberies took place in one week, with U.S. citizens the victims in two of the incidents. Sexual assaults have also occurred during some robberies. The best way to avoid such crime is to travel only during the day.