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Travel Advisory : Long Delays in Athens Airport

July 24, 1994|EDWARD WRIGHT | Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly

Latin America

Mexico: An American Mormon missionary and five Mexican friends were kidnaped and held for 10 hours near the city of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, U.S. diplomats report. Their four armed captors apparently intended at first to hold them for $15,000 ransom but released them unharmed early the next morning. In Guadalajara, a powerful car bomb exploded in front of the upscale Camino Real Hotel on June 11, killing at least two people and injuring several others, according to the U.S. Consulate. The bomb may have been set by a drug gang targeting its rivals at a hotel party. In troubled southeastern Chiapas state, U.S. officials report an increase in roadblocks set up by both guerrillas and the military in recent weeks. Some travelers, including British and American tourists, have been stopped by guerrillas who demand a "donation" from each.

Europe

Greece: Travelers flying to Greece this summer are in for long airport delays, the Greek Transport Ministry warns. The ministry blames the delays on heavy seasonal traffic; an average of 10,000 passengers have crowded the Athens airport each day, with many of the 600 or so incoming and outgoing flights backed up for two to four hours. Other factors, according to the Reuters news service, are labor problems and outmoded equipment. Air traffic controllers are refusing to work overtime during the peak season, when Athens air traffic jumps 30%. The controllers attribute some of the delay to what they call an inadequate, 20-year-old control tower radar system. Anyone planning a flight to Athens should obtain up-to-date information on conditions at the airport.

Asia

South Korea: With recent tension on the Korean peninsula and uncertainty following the death of North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung, some employees of American companies in South Korea have sent their families home. But the State Department has issued a statement saying it sees no need to warn Americans against traveling or staying there. "Taking all available information into account, we do not believe that conditions . . . warrant any special travel precautions at present," the department said. If it becomes necessary, the statement added, Washington will add South Korea to its list of places where Americans might be at risk. Anyone considering travel to South Korea should monitor news events closely.

Briefly . . .

Britain: Street crime, including muggings and purse-snatchings, rose by 41% in central London over the past year, according to a government report quoted by Reuters. The report said that the figure is "clearly out of step" with other crimes such as burglary, which have decreased dramatically.

South Africa: While political violence has lessened in recent months, violent crime is unabated, Reuters reports. In Johannesburg, murders rose from 144 in April of last year to 251 this past April, according to police officials, who indicate that there are 14,000 too few police on the beat in the Johannesburg area.

Hot Spots: State Department travel warnings are in effect for Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Korea, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia and Montenegro, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Yemen, and for East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225; the fax line is (202) 647-3000.

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