U.S. warns of threat to Americans in Honduran region

Chicago Tribune

Spain: A Russian oil rig carrying 1,400 tons of oil caught fire and later sank 15 miles west of the Spain's Canary Islands, causing an oil slick on popular tourist beaches. The government issued an environmental alert and has since cleaned one beach. Cleanup continues at three other beaches near Maspalomas on Gran Canaria. Tourists should follow local news on beach safety.

Honduras: The U.S. State Department has urged Americans to postpone travel to the Gracias a Dios region along the Caribbean coast because a "credible threat" specifically against Americans has been reported. For those venturing into Gracias a Dios, officials recommend using extra caution and enhancing personal security. Crime is rampant in Honduras, and police response is weak, though the situation had improved over the last two years.

India and Tibet: The earthquake that devastated much of Nepal also shook northern India and Tibet. In India, at least 25 people were killed in Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal counted several fatalities, collapsed buildings, closed schools and businesses. Major cities such as Kolkata and Delhi suffered minimal damage with cracked and semi-collapsed buildings, but locals remain fearful of more aftershocks. At least 20 deaths were reported in Tibet.

Thailand: Ethnic violence in the southern area of the country remains an issue. Although tourists are rarely targets of the regional conflict, tensions between the area's Muslim majority and local Thai Buddhists can escalate into violent incidents without warning. Tourists should use caution if visiting the area and avoid crowds.

Australia: The largest number of mosquito-borne Ross River virus disease (RRVD) cases since 1996 have been reported this year, with more than 6,000 documented. Most of the infections were in Queensland, specifically in Brisbane, and health officials said protection against mosquito bites is the best precaution to avoid infection. Though little more than half of those infected fall ill, many can suffer from joint and muscle pain, swelling, fever, tiredness, and rash. Most people recover from RRVD within weeks, yet in severe cases, symptoms can last for months.

Compiled from news services and travel sources. For updates, check with the State Department at 888-407-4747, travel.state.gov.

Habegger and Burlison are freelance reporters for the Chicago Tribune.

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