Panama rushes to secure canal after Paris attacks

PANAMA CITY (AFP) - Panama raised its terror alert level Saturday in reaction to the deadly attacks in Paris, ramping up security at its strategic canal and other sensitive locations, the president said.

"Security has been increased at airports, the canal and some diplomatic legations," President Juan Carlos Varela said a day after terror attacks in the French capital left at least 129 people dead.

The president did not provide further details on the security changes and did not say if there were any specific threats.

The canal, completed in 1914 to offer a short cut and safer journey for maritime traffic travelling between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, is undergoing a refit to triple its capacity.

The 80-kilometre long waterway is heavily used on routes from China, South Korea and Japan to the US East Coast.

Panama's government relies heavily on income the canal generates - most recently US$2.6 billion (S$3.7 billion) annually.