Terrorism: Finland warns against “unnecessary travel” to Sri Lanka

Finnish Foreign Ministry on Monday warned against any “unnecessary travel” to Sri Lanka, one day after a series of bombings caused heavy casualties in the Asian country.

The ministry said the advisory was based on a joint Nordic decision Sunday evening. Vesa Hakkinen, head of the Current Affairs Media Unit, told Xinhua that such Nordic policies are usually reached through consultations among the consular divisions of the ministries, and each country publishes the advisories separately.

The next level from advising against unnecessary travel would be advising against all travel. The highest level is advising to leave the country.

Travel advisories are normally based on long term observation of the conditions in the target area. “These short notice changes are rare,” Hakkinen said.

The situation in Sri Lanka and the level of advisory will be reviewed next time on Wednesday this week.

Hakkinen underlined that traveler chooses what he or she will do and the advisories are to assist in the decision. Insurance companies may change the terms and travel industry service providers may allow cancellation or delay of a booking, depending on the rules applied to a purchase. Hakkinen added that a joint Nordic line is helpful for the regional travel and insurance industries.

Finnish citizens are not under obligation to inform about their presence outside Finland. The ministry offers a voluntary notification service. Travelers can fill a form on the ministry’s website about their planned stays and contact information. At the time of the attacks, the notifications indicated that there were 80 Finns in Sri Lanka, but then travelers rushed to notify them and the number exceeded 200 by Monday and may increase.

The death toll from the multiple explosions which shook Sri Lanka on Sunday rose to 290, with over 500 others being injured. About 32 foreigners from the United States, Britain, Belgium and China were among those killed, according to local authorities.