Deadly earthquake rocks the Philippines

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At least three people are reported to have been killed as an earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Sunday.

The 6.9 magnitude quake occurred in Davao Del Sur province on the island of Mindanao.

The country’s second-largest island is a popular tourist destination.

Videos posted on social media showed hotel swimming pools overflowing and mass evacuations of people from shopping centres, CNN reported.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned that transportation throughout the area may be disrupted.

“A number of aftershocks have been reported,” the FCO said in updated travel advice.

“If you’re in Davao Del Sur, or are planning to travel to the area, you should be careful of aftershocks, monitor local media for up-to-date information and follow the advice of local authorities.

“You should check with transportation companies for any changes or cancellations of schedule.”

A previous series of 6.6 and 6.5-magnitude quakes struck Mindanao in October, killing 14 and injuring more than 400.

Carnival Corp chairman’s foundation pledges $5m towards global disaster relief

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The family foundation of Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine is donating $5 million towards global disaster relief efforts.

The money will go to help communities affected by Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina, Super Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Indonesia.

The $5 million donation from the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation is going to Save the Children and humanitarian organisation Direct Relief to support urgent relief needs, as well as the long-term recovery strategy across the globe in the wake of recent natural disasters.

Additional grants are underway from Carnival Foundation, the cruise conglomerate’s philanthropic arm, and brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland

America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises Australia and P&O Cruises UK.

Carnival Corporation’s collective donations will go toward supporting global aid agency Mercy Corps in Indonesia, International Medical Corps in the Philippines, and Save the Children in North and South Carolina and the Philippines.

Carnival Foundation executive director Linda Coll said: “Our hearts go out to those who are dealing with great hardship and loss following these major natural disasters, and our sincere hope is that these additional resources will help our partner organizations execute response plans for both immediate relief needs and longer-term recovery efforts.

“The Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation have helped so many people and communities over the years through its generous donations, and with this new pledge, it continues to provide critical support resources around the globe that will make a difference for those in need.”

She added: “We want to do all we can to help those with the most urgent needs, and also build a foundation for the future health and well-being of these affected communities for years to come.”

Amid Asia tensions, uncertainty over expansion

Amid Asia tensions, uncertainty over expansion

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightMaritime disputes in Asia have thrown a crimp into the cruise industry’s plans to expand in that fast-growing area of the world, and signs are the problem is growing worse.

The latest is a report in the Wall Street Journal that China is challenging archaeological exploration of hundreds of shipwrecks, many of them distant from its own shores.

The article says China views the wrecks as proof of Chinese exploration of islands in the South China Sea, in areas close to the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

According to the report, of particular concern was an incident last year off the coast of the Philippines, when Chinese vessels forced a French archaeological team to abandon its exploration of a 13th century Chinese junk.*TomStieghorst

Already, China and Japan are in a standoff over disputed islands in the East China Sea. As a result, Royal Caribbean International and other cruise lines are not including Japan on their itineraries from China, opting for only Korean ports on cruises from northern Chinese cities.

The tensions in that area have escalated, too, with China claiming air rights over a wide swath of international ocean, including the disputed islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

In its new air defense identification zone, China seeks to require all aircraft to file flight plans before entering the area. Japan and the U.S. immediately sent military planes into the space unannounced, to challenge the newly asserted Chinese zone.

None of this can improve the chance that China will get more big cruise ships. Until the uncertainty clears, the cruise industry’s Asia expansion, certainly in China, will not be full steam ahead.

Speaking on a third-quarter conference call to analysts, before China asserted its new air defense rights, Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein said Royal had been hoping in 2013 to announce plans to resume calls in Japan on its China cruises aboard the Mariner and Voyager of the Seas. Instead, it has been forced to open 2014 bookings with only Korean destinations again.

“This is, of course, frustrating particularly since we do not see any signs of positive geopolitical change in the dynamic between China and Japan,” Goldstein said. “We continue to build our brand, our distribution and our management team in China with a view to making the best of the itinerary options that are available to us.”