|Tunisian security forces out on patrol.|
London, Friday 26th June 20:00 hrs
|The Tunisian beach shortly after the massacre|
Earlier we confirmed twenty eight holidaymakers, British, German, Irish and Belgium and Tunisians tourists had been machine gunned down (an AK47, hidden in a folded beach parasol) and many wounded by a 'lone wolf attacker' [says Tunisian authorities] targeting two coastal hotels the Hotel Mahaba and the Hotel Palma Marina in Sousse, Tunisia, and also on the nearby Kantaqui beach. Over 20,000 British tourists are currently on holiday in Tunisia. Some reports suggest more than one gunman, and the second is still at large. This is just one of three savage attacks carried out today, the first Friday in Ramadan, the others being in Kuwait and France.
Tourist Exodus begins: Holiday firm TUI, Thomson's parent company, is to fly in six empty charter aircraft overnight to evacuate their tourists from Djerba and Enfidha. Other holiday firms are expected to follow TUI's lead....
Latest BBC updates on this link.
A COBRA emergency meeting in London is scheduled later at 16:40 today. A hotline is being set up by the Foreign Office it is 0207 008 0000.
The situation for tourists in Tunisia is highly fluid, but grave, however the travel advice given on the Foreign Office website clearly isn't fit for purpose as this is not the first serious Tunisian incident and the website seems to be more concerned about saving face by suggesting tourists should not give information to journalists. Clearly the oxygen of publicity by responsible media organisations will put pressure on the UK and European politicians to actually do something. It also seems to have misquoted the locus of the main attacks.
This is the current FCO statement as at 17:50pm (it could well change):
Gunmen attacked the Imperial Hotel and Hotel Club Riu Bellevue at Port El Kantaoui, near Sousse, earlier today.
A number of people have been killed and injured. A British Embassy crisis team is on its way to the area.
Some attackers may still be at large. Any British nationals in these hotels or nearby should remain indoors, and contact their tour operator and the Foreign Office on the hotline number below. For security reasons they should not advertise their location on social media or when speaking to journalists.
FCO Hotline number: +44 (0)207 008 0000+44 (0)207 008 0000
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
- the Chaambi Mountain National Park area
- the Tunisia-Algeria border crossing points at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef
- the militarized zone south of, but not including, the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
- within 5km of the Libya border area from north of Dhehiba up to but not including the Ras Ajdir border crossing
- areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Médenine, Zarzis (including the Tunisia-Libya border crossing point at Ras Ajdir)
- within 30km of the border with Algeria south of, and including, the town of Jendouba (this area includes the archaeological sites of Bulla Regia and Chemtou)
- the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla
There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. See Terrorism
A terrorist attack took place at the Bardo museum in the centre of Tunis on 18 March. A number of people were killed, including a British national. Further attacks are possible. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator.
424,707 British nationals visited Tunisia in 2014. Most British tourists stay in the coastal resorts and most visits are trouble free.
In the resort areas, the dress code is much like any European city or tourist area. In other parts of the country you should dress more modestly. See Local Laws and Customs
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.
At the moment Tourists to Tunisia seeking to cancel their package holidays will not get refunds and travel insurance companies will not pay out until the Foreign Office changes its official advice. Independent travellers with travel insurance should contact their airline and broker.
Thomas Cook are however suggesting changes may be made to existing bookings - without further charge - We suggest keep in contact with your holiday company rep. and hotel management. KEEP A VIDEO DIARY, construct a written timeline and take photographs to support your activity. Keep all receipts and paper documents, in date order, somewhere safe.
We are hearing within the last hour; that at least one tourist flight from Belgium has been turned around. So official travel advice may change, only then fully unlocking insurance refunds.
Our strong advice is to stay within your hotel compound or better still LOCKED inside your hotel room and well away from the balcony ( in case of sniper activity). Females are advised to cover up and dress very conservatively. This is the holy month of Ramadan...
Keep your mobile phones and cameras fully charged, while the hotel has electricity and secure some bottled water and fill a bath, in case water is cut, and you need to flush the loo etc
If you have the funds in cash to leave the country, that is an option, but a highly risky one. Not advised. There are over 20,000 British tourists in Tunisia mainly in coastal resorts.
If any evacuation is required it would be organised both internationally and locally and with a police/military escort to the airport or other point of departure. Be prepared to evacuate your hotel QUICKLY, leaving most of your luggage behind, just pack a few essentials in a small carry bag and secure your travel documents, medications, warm clothing, 'stout shoes' and passports. Be prepared to be 'inconvenienced'...
Holidaymakers flying out to Tunisia in the next few days are strongly advised to contact their travel agent and holiday company. Until FCO change travel advise, holidaymakers are still financially liable for the full amount of the holiday contract and will not qualify for any form of refund or financial relief, although some operators may offer as a goodwill gesture an alternative destination at their option. Refunds, cancellations will only be actioned if the British Government changes the travel advice.
Local telephone numbers for the British Embassy are given below.
Keep visiting the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Website and tune into BBC World Service
British Embassy Tunis, main contact
Rue du Lac Windermere
Les Berges du Lac
Thomas Cook earlier issued the following statement however astonishingly the weblink given for the FCO advice is broken, better to use the one we give above....
Latest Update: 26th June 2015 15:03
Thomas Cook is aware of a tragic incident which occurred earlier today in Port el Kantaoui, Tunisia. We can confirm that the hotels targeted are not offered by Thomas Cook, and that none of our customers or staff were in residence at the time. However, we do currently have customers staying in other parts of the resort, and our experienced teams on the ground are continuing to offer every support to them and their families at this difficult time.
Our customers’ welfare remains our primary concern, and we are liaising closely with our overseas team and the FCO. We are continuing to monitor the situation, and will provide further updates as appropriate.
For the latest Tunisia travel advice, visit https://www.gov.uk/fo
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast COOBE ISDN ++44 (0)1733 345020 (DUAL CODEC) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe Cell: 07944 217476 or iPhone 0743 530 3145 www.aviationcomment.com # # # VENDOR 10476453 http://feeds.feedburner.com/BraysDuckhouseBlog