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FOREIGN BRIEFING

Brits streamline airport security

March 25, 2007|Janet Stobart | From Times Staff And Wires

1 London

Passengers will no longer have to allow several extra hours for security checks when flying from British airports, even in the tourist-jammed summer months, according to air transport authorities, who are adding staff and equipment.

Since Aug. 10, when British airports ground to a halt after a major terrorist bomb scare, travelers through most terminals in Britain have faced two- to four-hour waits.

After the bomb scare, the Civil Aviation Authority, the regulating body of British airports, temporarily suspended a rule that had required airports to compensate airlines if they failed to get at least 95% of passengers through security in 10 minutes or less per passenger.

By late last year, the rule was back in place in London's busiest terminals: Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The British Airports Authority, which owns the airports, has since been able to speed up the security process.

Airports are bringing in more scanning equipment and recruiting more staff. Heathrow, for instance, has added 15 security lanes.

Although travelers should find their airport waiting times shorter, they are still advised to arrive two hours before departure for intra-European flights and three hours for long-haul flights.

-- Janet Stobart

2 Paraguay

Concern is rising about an outbreak of dengue fever, which has killed at least 10 people in Paraguay and infected more than 15,000 there. In a public announcement, the State Department last week said, "Americans traveling to Paraguay, particularly Asuncion, may wish to defer travel for the time being." Brazil and Bolivia have declared alerts, and Argentine officials are cautioning residents. Dengue fever causes headaches, muscle and joint pain; virulent strains can lead to death.

3 Kenya

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya has issued an advisory to Americans in Nairobi after a string of highly publicized carjackings. The advisory cautions travelers against driving at night or in unfamiliar places. "Do not stop to assist anyone in an accident or other incident," the advisory adds, noting that posing as an accident victim "is a common tactic used to lure good Samaritans into a dangerous situation."

4 Greece

To help visitors navigate classical ruins, Greece's Culture Ministry unveiled a hand-held device that offers video, site diagrams, position indicators and sound. The units will be available by summer 2008 at 15 sites, including the Acropolis in Athens.

5 Peru

Peru's congress passed a law stiffening penalties for attacks on tourists, making life in prison the maximum sentence for murdering or severely injuring a tourist. Previously, only crimes such as terrorism or the rape of a minor carried a life sentence.

6 North Korea

Communist North Korea will issue visas for U.S. citizens to watch its Arirang games festival next month, Radio Free Asia reported. Nicholas Bonner, a director at Beijing-based Koryo Tours, says his agency is arranging three-night packages starting at about $2,000 per person.

-- From Times staff and wires

Caution spots

The State Department last month updated its public announcement on Fiji, urging Americans to "consider carefully" the risks of travel there. It cited a state of emergency since the military deposed the government in December. It also continued to advise "extreme caution

* More than 40 nations were mentioned in public announcements and warnings. For a full list, visit www.travel.state.gov.

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