News Watch

Northern Nigeria is currently affected by a new outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) which has the potential to cause international outbreaks.

From 2003 to 2006, an outbreak in northern Nigeria eventually reinfected 20 previously polio-free countries, causing outbreaks as far away as Indonesia and Yemen and resulting in 1,475 cases.

 Nigeria currently accounts for 86% of WPV1 cases in the world. Upwards of 20% of children remain unimmunized in the north of the country....

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Following an unexplained cluster of deaths in children from the NGagne Diaw quarter of Thiaroye sur Mer, Dakar, Senegal, an investigation revealed that the area was contaminated with lead from the informal recycling of lead batteries.

Very high concentrations of lead, both outside and inside peoples’ homes, have been found in this area inhabited by about 950 people, who are continuously exposed through ingestion and inhalation of lead-contaminated dust.

The Llaima Volcano, in Conguillio National Park about 435 miles south of Santiago, Chile, spewed lava and ash in January and February 2008, but its eruption again in July prompted the evacuation of tourists and residents from the area.

Currently, two volcanoes are erupting in Chile. The other, Chaiten, farther south near Puerto Montt,  erupted spectacularly on May 2. Chile has a chain of 2,000-plus volcanoes (second only to Indonesia).

In Argentina at press time, striking farmers had been blocking hundreds of roads and highways since March to restrict deliveries of agricultural products, leaving supermarkets empty, doubling the price of beef and even affecting tourism, as bus companies stopped selling tickets.

Demonstrators in Buenos Aires on June 16 demanded the government resume negotiations. Counterdemonstrations against the farmers were held as well.

As ITN went to press, the State Department had travel warnings on 27 destinations: Chad, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Eritrea, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Somalia, Nepal, Haiti, Burundi, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Central African Republic, Kenya, Israel/West Bank/Gaza, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

For details, call the State Department at 202/647-5225 or visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/...

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Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar near the lower Irrawaddy Delta region on May 2-3, 2008, with winds of 120 to 150 mph, then traveled inland to Rangoon. The government declared disaster areas in five central and southern regions: Rangoon, Irrawaddy, Bago, Mon and Kayin.

In the delta region, the damage was widespread and many entire villages were destroyed. There were an estimated 78,000 deaths, 56,000 people missing and millions homeless.

Heavy damage was also reported in Rangoon,...

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A 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck China’s eastern Sichuan province on May 12, killing 68,000, leaving  five million homeless and damaging infrastructure. The epicenter of the quake was near Wenchuan County, approximately 55 miles northwest of Chengdu.

Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou airports restricted use to mostly relief and aid missions.

At press time, a major concern was possible flooding from lakes formed behind over 30 dams created by landslides. Thousands of people were evacuated...

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The Department of State reminds travelers that any large-scale public event, such as the upcoming Olympic Games in China, may present an attractive target for terrorists. Consequently, there is a heightened risk that extremist groups will conduct terrorist acts within China in the near future.

Visitors are advised to be alert to their surroundings at all times and to avoid areas of demonstrations.