The following alerts are based on ISA's direct observation, U.S. Department of State recommendations, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO reports, and expert consultation.
Friday, August 28, 2015
As of 4:00pm on August 28th, a tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Dominican Republic as Tropical Storm Erika has reached the southern coast of the country and is forecast to move through the island of Hispaniola this evening. As it approached the southern coast of the island, its sustained winds were measured at 50 mph with rainfall accumulation of 3-6". However, the National Hurricane Center reports that the storm could weaken to a tropical depression as it continues through the mountains of the island.
The effect that Erika will have on Santiago, if any, remains unknown at this time, although the city itself does not seem to be in the direct path of storm. As a precaution, the Pontificia Universidad Católica "Madre y Maestra" (PUCMM) closed its campus for the afternoon and is expected to open for classes on Monday. The ISA staff in Santiago remains in communication with all students in Santiago and will advise them as necessary.
Friday, August 28, 2015
A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for the Dominican Republic as heavy winds and rainfall are currently spreading across portions of the country. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the heart of Tropical Storm Erika was approximately 65 miles from the Southern coast of the Dominican Republic as of 10:00 am CST this morning, continuing on its projected northwest track through the Caribbean. Winds were reported at 18 miles per hour (mph) with the potential for maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Officials have warned residents in the country's coastal towns of the possibility of landslides and heavy flooding in anticipation of Erika's arrival today.
At this time, it is still uncertain what the storm's effect will be in Santiago, which is approximately 100 miles from the Dominican Republic's southern coast and is not currently experiencing strong winds or heavy floods. However, given Erika's projected track, all ISA students in Santiago have been advised to remain in the city until advised otherwise. ISA staff, both domestic and in Santiago, are closely monitoring the storm's developments and will continue to advise all students accordingly, including any further precautions to take.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
On Tuesday, August 25th, North and South Korea reached an agreement ending the political and military confrontation which transpired over the past week. Recent heightened tensions between the two countries had been bolstered by loudspeakers blasting propaganda over the border, the exchange of artillery fire, a recent landmine blast in which two South Korean soldiers were injured, and the ongoing joint military exercise between South Korea and the U.S. It is widely reported that both North and South Korea agreed to conditions that will temper these tensions significantly. Seoul agreed to switch off the loudspeakers and North Korea expressed regret over the recent landmine blasts as part of the negotiations.
Currently, all Seoul Fall students have arrived and begun program activities as planned. ISA is very happy to learn of the agreement between the countries and does not expect to see any effects of the recent confrontation on the current ISA Seoul programs. Our staff, both domestic and in Seoul, will continue to review safety and security information in Korea and advise all students when necessary.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
On Thursday, August 20th, North Korea fired a projectile across its border into South Korea. The projectile, suspected to be a small rocket, landed in Yeoncheon County, north of the Seoul metropolitan area. South Korea responded with artillery fire aimed at the source of the North Korean rocket. Multiple news outlets report that North Korea's aggression was in response to recent anti-Pyongyang propaganda being transmitted into North Korea via loudspeaker, along with the annual military exercises (called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian) that South Korea organizes with the United States. Thursday's actions seem to have been warnings from both sides, and no damage or injuries have been reported by either country. However, in light of North Korea's potential for retaliatory military action, South Korea's military has been put on full alert, and many residents in the Yeoncheon County area have been evacuated.
Currently a small number of ISA Academic Year students and students who have arrived early for the Fall semester are on site in Seoul. Fall programs in Seoul will begin this week, with one group of students arriving on the 22nd and two groups of students arriving on the 24th of this month. ISA staff, both domestic and in Seoul, will be monitoring this situation closely and advising all students accordingly. The U.S. State Department has not issued any travel restrictions for South Korea at this time.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
On Monday, August 17th, a bomb exploded around 7:00pm local time at the Erawan Shrine near a busy intersection in the central commercial district of Bangkok. Multiple media outlets report at least 20 people were killed and over 120 were injured. At the time of this posting, no motive or group behind the attack has been determined, however, local police officials and investigators have identified a main suspect through the use of CCTV footage. On Tuesday, August 18th, two more explosions occurred in central Bangkok, including a bombing near Bangkok's Sathorn Pier, a popular transportation hub in the city. No casualties have been reported from the second and third explosions and local officials are still determining whether a link exists between the three blasts.
There are currently no ISA programs running in Bangkok. At present, the U.S. State Department has not placed any restrictions on travel to Thailand, but has advised U.S. citizens in Bangkok to exercise a high level of vigilance, avoid the areas of the blasts, and observe local authorities' directives. ISA staff, both domestic and in Bangkok, are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will be evaluating Bangkok's security situation in light of the Fall 2015 program, which is scheduled to begin as planned on September 4th.
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