U.S. warns of new Haiti travel dangers

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WASHINGTON -- The State Department issued a revised Haiti travel advisory that warns Americans planning to travel to the Caribbean nation about robbery, lawlessness, infectious disease and poor medical facilities.

"U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender or age," the advisory said.

The new travel warning was released Friday.

In recent months, travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince, the capital and largest city, on flights from the United States have been attacked and robbed after leaving the airport. This year, at least two U.S. citizens were shot and killed in robbery and kidnapping incidents, the State Department said.

"Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such violent acts or prosecute perpetrators," the department said.

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The State Department also noted that while the incidents of cholera have declined, the disease persists in many areas of Haiti. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak.

"Thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti's emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel. Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation and medical support options in place," the department said.

Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince a massive fire ravaged a portion of a popular marketplace where hundreds of vendors sold their wares.

Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said Saturday that dozens of stalls at the Port Market were burned to the ground and that few items were recovered. He said authorities are investigating what caused the fire late Friday.

He said there are no reports of deaths or injuries.

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