US warns expats to be ready to evacuate 27 January 2003 AMSTERDAM — The US State Department has instructed all American embassies to warn US nationals that they should be ready to leave their resident country quickly in an emergency. A Reuters news report said the message, which was sent on Friday 24 January, was the first time the department has issued such a general warning. But a senior State Department official was not prepared to reveal whether the message was related to a possible attack against Iraq, which the US accuses of hiding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The message advises US citizens to assemble all vital documents such as passports in an accessible location and have an adequate supply of food, water and necessary medications in their home. It also warned them to make sure their car had sufficient fuel and oil in the event of political unrest, natural disasters or terrorist attacks. "The Department is asking all US embassies and consulates worldwide to send a message to local American communities with advice on preparedness for an emergency," Reuters quoted State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman saying. Americans routinely receive messages from their embassies updating them on security issues, but the State Department said "this is the first time it has recommended (diplomatic) posts issue a warden message regarding the personal preparedness of individual American citizens abroad". The senior State Department official said "we're asking our embassies to remind Americans ... to take normal preparations, routine preparations, to leave if for some reason, whatever it might be, they might have to". Asked if he was saying that the warning was totally routine, he replied: "I didn't say it was totally routine. I said we are doing this and that we have done it before. We thought it was appropriate to remind people to take appropriate precautions."