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WORLD TRAVEL WATCH

Monsoons Takes Heavy Toll Across North India

August 01, 1993|LARRY HABEGGER and JAMES O'REILLY | Habegger and O'Reilly are San Francisco-based free-lance writers.

World Travel Watch is a monthly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home. For more information on safety concerns in countries you may be visiting, contact the Citizens Emergency Center, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5225. Asia

India: Monsoon rains have caused heavy flooding across wide areas of northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh, leaving millions of people homeless and killing nearly 1,000. Hard hit were the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana in the northwest and seven states in the northeast, including West Bengal and Assam. Kaziranga National Park in Assam, home to the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, was reportedly completely submerged. Travel to these regions should be avoided until the monsoon rains stop, which usually occurs in September. Receding waters will leave behind thousands of dead animals and the potential for infectious diseases.

Nepal: Protests in Kathmandu and other cities since June 18 have claimed 15 lives and further unrest is likely. The demonstrations followed the deaths of two Communist Party leaders in a road accident May 16. Communist Party partisans believe the men were murdered. More protests are planned and a three-day national strike is scheduled for Aug. 9. Security forces may use force to maintain order, and the imposition of a curfew is possible.

Southeast Asia

Philippines: The body of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos will be flown back from Honolulu to his hometown in northern Luzon for burial on Sept. 5. Marcos's return and internment have been blocked by the Philippine government since his death in 1989 due to fears that the event would spark unrest. Such fears remain, evidenced by the government's refusal to allow the body to be brought through Manila. Travelers should be aware that the possibility of protests by Marcos loyalists exists around that date.

Europe

United Kingdom: An anti-terrorist cordon was put in place around London's financial district in July in an attempt to prevent further car bomb blasts by the IRA, but many security experts and police officers have criticized the move, claiming it will only provoke more attacks by providing terrorists with a new opportunity for a propaganda coup. Cars seeking to enter London's downtown Square Mile are subject to searches, but pedestrians can pass freely.

Former Yugoslavia: The U.S. Department of State issued a statement July 10 indicating the possibility of violence against Westerners by Iran's Islamic militant groups. While there is no information on specific potential incidents, travelers throughout the region are advised to contact the nearest American embassy or consulate for current information.

Moscow:Organized crime is running rampant, and police say they have neither the money nor the equipment to fight it. Two incidents of daylight shootings occurred July 19 and 21 as gangs seek to enforce protection rackets and fight turf wars. Travelers should scrupulously avoid any Moscow businesses reputed to be connected to organized crime.

Pacific

Australia: Young women traveling in the outback near the isolated mining town of Coober Pedy should be cautious, especially if traveling alone. A German woman backpacker disappeared July 14, about 20 months after the similar disappearance of an Italian woman. Both were traveling alone on extended holidays, and had stayed in youth hostels. Coober Pedy, about halfway between Alice Springs and Adelaide, is a popular tourist destination because of its opal mines and unusual underground housing to escape the heat. Police fear a killer is stalking young women travelers. Last year, two British women backpackers were murdered in New South Wales bush country. The murderer has not been found.

Papua New Guinea: Crime continues to be a problem throughout the country. Women have been the targets of assaults and armed robberies in Port Moresby and other urban areas. Thieves often work crowds at sporting events, concerts and other large gatherings. Visiting isolated public areas such as parks, golf courses and beaches is risky. According to the U.S. State Department, most resident foreigners avoid public vehicles or taxis and rely on rental vehicles for transport. Travel outside Port Moresby at night can be hazardous.

Central America

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