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No Reports of Injuries Following Fire at Glasgow School of Art

Friday, May 23

The BBC is reporting that all students and staff have been safely evacuated following a fire at the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland. Officials say the fire began in the basement of the school's famous Mackintosh Building earlier today. IFSA-Butler has five students at GSA this spring semester.

For more information:

Wildfires in Valparaiso, Chile

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Classes at all Valparaíso universities have been cancelled until Monday, April 21. The universities made this decision so that students and staff may continue to help in the relief effort. IFSA-Butler Valparaíso Resident Director Mark Sinclair has organized a list of volunteer activities for IFSA-Butler students and their host families. These volunteer activities include gathering and distributing supplies to families in need, as well as helping at a soup kitchen. A photo of our students volunteering in the cleanup appeared in a Valparaíso newspaper (bottom right photo).

The National Forest Service of Chile is reporting that the wildfires 99 percent contained, with the remaining small fires being further from the city center. Mark Sinclair reports that air quality is already improving in the area.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wildfires have spread across Valparaíso, Chile, home to IFSA-Butler's Chilean Universities Program. The fires destroyed 500 homes, left thousands homeless and killed 11 people. As of Sunday morning, the fires were mostly under control.

IFSA-Butler students were not directly affected by these fires, as most host families homes are located in the neighboring city of Viña del Mar, and those in Valparaíso were in low-lying areas away from the fires. All IFSA-Butler students and their host families are accounted for and fine.

Our resident director in Valparaíso, Mark Sinclair, has asked IFSA-Butler students and their host families to contribute as they are able with basic supplies such as food, clothes, personal hygiene supplies, construction materials, etc., in coordination with local government and recognized aid organizations. Mark Sinclair will also be identifying volunteer opportunities that will allow IFSA-Butler students to help with this tragedy and form a solidarity with those in need.

IFSA-Butler will keep in close contact with students regarding lingering smoke problems, class cancellations or other issues related to these fires. We will update our audiences on this situation as necessary.

For more information:




Tropical Cyclone Ita in Queensland

Friday, April 11

As expected, Ita hit Northern Queensland on Friday evening. The storm was strong and caused property damage and flooding throughout the affected area, including the city of Cairns. All IFSA-Butler students at James Cook University Cairns were traveling in other areas of Australia during the storm and were not planning to return to the city until later in April.

IFSA-Butler students in other Australia cities were planning to travel to Cairns during university breaks over the coming weeks. IFSA-Butler has advised these students not to travel to Cairns until Queensland authorities declare that it is safe to do so.

Thursday, April 10

Tropical Cyclone Ita is expected to hit the northern part of the Australian state of Queensland late on Friday. Ita's path includes the city of Cairns, home to IFSA-Butler's program at James Cook University. The storm could include damaging winds and flash flooding.

Most of our students in Cairns will be in Melbourne for an IFSA-Butler program excursion, but IFSA-Butler staff in Australia will ensure that any students not on the excursion are safe and accounted for. In addition, James Cook University will reinforce safety precautions and appropriate shelter during the storm. The university keeps food, water and safety supplies on hand in shelter areas for weather events such as these.

For more information, we recommend the following sites:

BBC News

Queensland Courier-Mail

Australian Broadcasting Company

IFSA-Butler Students Accounted for Following Chile Earthquake and Aftershocks

Thursday, April 3, 2014

IFSA-Butler students in Chile are accounted for following a 7.6 magnitude aftershock late on Wednesday. The Chilean government issued an evacuation order for the coastal areas surrounding the earthquake, as well as a tsunami warning, but both were cancelled earlier today. Please see the April 2 information below for details on IFSA-Butler's earthquake response and student safety precautions.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit along the coastlines of Chile, Peru and Ecuador late on Tuesday, April 1. All IFSA-Butler students in Chile have been accounted for.

The Chilean government issued a tsunami alert and mandatory evacuation for all coastal residents, but this evacuation order did not affect our students in Chile, as our program cities of Santiago and Valparaiso are very far from the center of the earthquake. The tsunami alert was cancelled Wednesday morning. Our resident director in Peru has also verified that IFSA-Butler students in Lima are fine and did not feel the earthquake.

IFSA-Butler's resident directors in Santiago and Valparaiso have responded to the earthquake with the following safety precautions and reminders:

  • A U.S. Embassy statement to all U.S. citizens in Chile was sent out to all IFSA-Butler Chile students.
  • Students have been asked to contact their families to assure them that they are fine.
  • University classes in Valparaiso were cancelled today and will resume as soon as officials, as a normal precaution, can verify that campus buildings are safe. Our Valparaiso resident director, Mark Sinclair, will notify all students once university classes resume.

Please see the following links for more information:

U.S. Geological Survey
The New York Times

Tensions in Israel-March 13, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

IFSA-Butler is closely monitoring the escalation of tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Since November 2013, intermittent rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel by Islamic Jihadist groups has been slowly increasing, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has consistently responded with targeted attacks on specific jihadist installations located in Gaza.

Over the past 24 hours, reports indicate that over 60 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, and the IDF has targeted at least 36 sites in Gaza. No casualties have been reported. This is the most activity witnessed between the two entities since November 2012. It is also reported that Egyptian officials are working towards a cease fire with the Israeli government and Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza.

At this time, IFSA-Butler will continue to monitor developments in the region with the assistance of our contracted intelligence analysis assistance company. We do not anticipate any interruption to the study abroad program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem at this time, as the epicenter of activity is within a small radius of the Israel-Gaza border. Students who are studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem have been instructed to avoid this area at all costs, and they have also been informed on what to do should sirens sound in Jerusalem. IFSA-Butler students have also been given emergency contact information for the IFSA-Butler student services coordinator in Israel, as well as Hebrew University staff.

For more information, please see the following media outlets:

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