News Watch

Super Typhoon Rai made landfall in the southern islands of the Philippines on Dec. 16, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour causing more than 400,000 people to be evacuated. At least 375 people were killed and more than 500 injured, with 56 people still missing at press time. The high winds and flash flooding destroyed thousands of homes and buildings, affecting an estimated 13 million people on the islands of Siargao, Leyte, Bohol and Cebu.

Monsoon rains that fell over a number of days caused flooding throughout Malaysia in late December, killing at least eight people in the state of Selangor, peninsular Malaysia, where the city of Kuala Lumpur is located. At least 30,000 people were evacuated before the floods. Many thousands were trapped and in need of rescue afterward.

A bomb cyclone named Storm Barra dropped heavy rains in northern Spain in early December, causing flooding in the Navarre region, with the water level in some villages up to roof level. One person was killed when a farmhouse was struck by a landslide.

A bomb cyclone is a fast-developing cyclone that occurs outside of the tropics, similar to but formed differently than a hurricane. It is characterized by high winds and heavy rains.

Storm Barra also caused minor flooding and wind...


Cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant, which, at press time, was believed to be more contagious than any previous variant, increased at a record rate in December, with the numbers of daily new cases in the UK and France each topping 200,000, a record for both countries. Some border restrictions began to be enforced in order to limit international travel from countries with high case rates, though earlier travel bans from Southern African countries were revoked by most countries....


Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, stepped down from his position on Jan. 2, only one month after being released from prison and reappointed by the military junta that has been in control of the country since a coup on Oct. 25. During antimilitary protests continuing since the coup, at least 47 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded or detained.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered outside of the presidential palace in Khartoum on Dec. 19, calling for...


A suicide bomber attacked a packed restaurant in the city of Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Dec. 25, killing five people and injuring 13. People in the restaurant, who included children and local government officials, were celebrating Christmas at the time. Security did not allow the bomber into the restaurant, causing him to detonate his bomb at the entrance.

Investigators blamed the bombing on the Allied Democratic Forces, a militant group with ties to the Islamist group...


On the river Sugandha in Bangladesh, a ferry traveling south from the capital, Dhaka, to the town of Barguna caught fire on Dec. 24, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 100 others. The ferry was carrying 500 passengers at the time.

Investigators believe the fire spread from the engine room, while the ship’s owner stated that the fire started in a guest room before spreading to the engine. At press time, the cause of the fire had not been determined.


The US Department of State posts up-to-date travel advisories on every country and many territories, ranking each 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions), 2 (Exercise Increased Caution), 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel). Note: A country’s regions are also ranked and may have different rankings than the country as a whole. Visit and click on “Travel Advisories” at the top of the page.