Kenya holidays halted amid blasts

Romsey Advertiser: The Foreign Office warned against all non-essential travel to parts of Kenya because of a threat from terrorism The Foreign Office warned against all non-essential travel to parts of Kenya because of a threat from terrorism

At least 10 people have been killed in two explosions in the Kenyan capital Nairobi as British holidaymakers were being flown home early from the East African country's other main town Mombasa.

The death-toll figure was given by the Kenyan National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) which added that around 70 people had been injured and that one suspect had been arrested.

One of the blasts was reported to be on a 14-seat matatu tour bus. Both explosions were in the Gikombna Market area of the city.

The NDOC said the injured have been taken to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Guru Nanak Hospital and that the Red Cross was setting up a blood donation centre at KNH.

The blasts - around 1pm UK time - follow terrorist attacks earlier this month in and around the coastal town of Mombasa.

These incidents prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to amend its Kenya travel advice. The new advice warned against all but essential travel to parts of Mombasa.

This, in turn, led to some UK tour operators cancelling Kenya holidays, with around 500 British tourists being flown home yesterday and today from Mombasa.

The first plane carrying Thomson and First Choice holiday company tourists arrived early today at Gatwick airport.

A second plane is due back from Mombasa tonight, with Thomson and First Choice cancelling all flights to Kenya until the end of October.

Two clients with long-haul travel company Kuoni are also being flown home today, with the company not offering any more holidays to the Kenyan coast for the time being.

Thomson and First Choice have cancelled all flights to and from Kenya until the end of October. The FCO said it was monitoring the situation following today's Nairobi blasts.

UK travel organisation Abta said: "We estimated that around 500 British tourists were travelling with tour operators in resorts at the time of the change of (FCO) advice.

"These customers have been safely repatriated out of these areas. Anyone still travelling in the affected areas should make contact with their travel provider. (The) Diani (area) remains unaffected by the change to advice. Flights into Nairobi also remain unaffected."

An Abta spokeswoman said: " Alternative destinations or full refunds will be offered to consumers travelling on package holidays to affected areas for as long as the advice remains in place.

"If customers are due to travel to the areas impacted, they should contact their tour operator, who will advise them about the status of their booking."

Holidaymaker Alex Dolphin, from Surrey, arrived back at Gatwick, having spent three days at a resort on Diani Beach.

He told the BBC: "I didn't feel uneasy until we were in a convoy of three coaches parked on the roadside waiting to leave for the airport.

"I was keeping an eye open as we drove through Mombasa."

Other holidaymakers had mixed views about the way the whole situation had been handled. One man told the BBC it had been "a shambles" but other returning holidaymakers said tour companies were "very professional" and had "done the right thing".

The blasts in Nairobi today are thought to have been in the Eastleigh district of the city. The FCO already advises against travel in this area.

A spokeswoman for Kuoni said: "We are working closely with the FCO, Abta and our ground agents and we will continue to monitor the situation. For now our policy remains the same."

Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the the bombings.

"There can be no place for appalling acts of violence such as this in any society. The Kenyan authorities have our full support as they investigate this incident and seek to prevent further attacks," he said.

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