US Embassy Wellington Issues 7.8 Earthquake and Tsunami Emergency Message For New Zealand

Posted: 5:19 pm PT
Updated: 10:25 pm PT to include the ambassador’s statement
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On November 14, the US Embassy in Wellington issued the following Security Message for U.S. citizens traveling or residing in New Zealand:

The U.S. Geological Service has reported a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in North Canterbury, New Zealand on the South Island in the early hours of Monday morning.  Its epicenter was 15 km north-east of Culverden, close to Hanmer Springs, at 12:02 AM local time.  Military helicopters have been dispatched to the town of Kaikoura on the east coast to assess the damage and help those worst hit.  Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that there have been two fatalities.  Wellington City Council has asked workers based in the city center to stay home today “owing to potential damage to buildings and disruptions to public transport”.

At 8:13 AM, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management announced a tsunami marine and beach threat from Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands.  The threat for all other regions has been lifted.  All previous threat regions will experience unusually strong currents for some time.  Areas under ‘Marine and Beach Threat’ can expect unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore.  This means a threat to beach, harbor, estuary, and small boat activities.  The severity of currents and changing water flows will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect.  People in Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands areas should:

  1. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers, and estuaries, including boating activities).
  2. Stay off beaches and shore areas.
  3. Do not go sightseeing.
  4. Share this information with family, neighbors, and friends.
  5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates.
  6. Follow instructions of local civil defense authorities.
  7. If beach threat is forecasted for your area, take appropriate evasive action.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in New Zealand enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.

U.S. Ambassador Gilbert said that USG employees are all accounted for but they are still trying to locate those who are on vacation.

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US Embassy Addis Ababa Restricts Personal Travel of USG Personnel in Ethiopia

Posted:12:09 am ET
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On August 9, the US Embassy in Ethiopia issued an emergency message informing U.S. citizens in the country of the restrictions on personal travel by USG personnel:

The U.S. Embassy wishes to inform U.S. citizens that protests in Ethiopia have resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and government security forces.  As such, Embassy personnel have been restricted from personal travel to areas in the Amhara and Oromia region states.  Restrictions of future travel by Embassy personnel are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted in the demonstrations, the unpredictability of protests presents significant risks for travelers to the affected regions.  Everyone should increase their level of situational awareness, continuously assess their surroundings, and evaluate their personal level of safety and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings.

Also on Addis Ababa:

 

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US Embassy Juba: Two Charter Flights For U.S. Citizens to Depart on July 14

Posted: 1:11 pm ET
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The U.S. Embassy in Juba sent an emergency message to U.S. citizens in South Sudan informing them on two charter flights departing from Juba to Entebbe (Uganda) on Thursday, July 14.

Evacuation Flights from Juba Beginning | July 13, 2016

The U.S. Embassy in Juba informs resident American citizens that two charter flights will be departing Juba to Entebbe on July 14. U.S. citizens wishing to depart on the first flight should arrive to the airport at 8:30 a.m. to be processed. U.S citizens wishing to depart on the second flight should arrive no later than 12:30 p.m. to be processed.

The U.S. Embassy will not collect money for this flight; however, all passengers will be required to complete and sign a DS-5528 promissory letter for the fare. The amount of the loan will be the cost of a full fare ticket from Juba to Entebbe (approximately USD250). You must arrange your own transportation to the airport and onward from Juba. Due to ongoing security concerns, please remain vigilant when moving about the city.

Notice to all passengers: (1) Bring a valid travel document (passport); (2) you are restricted to one small carryon; and (3) no pets will be allowed. The Embassy continues to monitor the situation and will update you as appropriate.

Read What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis.

 

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USG Supports Japan Relief Efforts Following Kyushu Earthquakes, Also What’s This Mystery Foam?

Posted: 12:02 am ET
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USGC reported the April 14 and 15 earthquakes that hit the island of Kyushu:

The April 15, 2016 M 7.0 earthquake north of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at shallow depth. Focal mechanisms for the earthquake indicate slip occurred on either a left-lateral fault striking to the northwest, or on a right-lateral fault striking northeast. While the earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers northwest of the Ryukyu Trench, where the Philippine Sea plate begins its northwestward subduction beneath Japan and the Eurasia plate, the shallow depth and faulting mechanism of this earthquake indicate it occurred on a crustal fault within the upper Eurasia plate. At the location of this event, the Philippine Sea plate converges with Eurasia towards the northwest at a velocity of 58 mm/yr.

The April 15, 2016, M 7.0 event (UTC 16:25:06) occurred one day after a series of foreshocks in the same region, which included M 6.2 and M 6.0 earthquakes. The April 14 events resulted in at least 9 fatalities and over 800 injuries.

According to the US Consulate in Fukuoka which covers the consular district, the Kyushu/Yamaguchi Region of southwestern Japan consists of seven prefectures on Kyushu Island (Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima) and Yamaguchi prefecture on the southern tip of Honshu, with a combined population of over 15 million. The region’s $435 billion economy constitutes Japan’s fourth largest economic center, representing about 10 percent of national GDP – comparable in size to the Netherlands.

The US Embassy in Tokyo issued one Emergency Message to U.S. citizens saying in part that “Kumamoto is approximately 730 miles southwest of Tokyo. Authorities report nine confirmed deaths and as many as 1,000 injured. Local authorities report no U.S. citizens among the casualties. No tsunami warning was issued. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported several aftershocks, some of which exceeded 5.0 magnitude. Aftershocks may continue for up to a week. Heavy rains are expected in the region over the coming weekend, which may lead to landslides.”

U.S. Forces Japan announced that the Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, over the weekend to assist with recovery efforts in support of the Government of Japan’s relief efforts. According to the DOD release, the U.S. military support is provided at the request of the Government of Japan and is in support of efforts undertaken by the Japanese Self Defense Force.

Japan Times reported that a cabinet secretary said there [are] no abnormalities at nearby nuclear facilities. The epicenter was 120 km (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, the only one operating in the country.  The Asahi Shimbun quotes Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying, “Under the current circumstances, there is no need to stop the plant because (the shaking) is sufficiently low.”

Meanwhile, in Fukuoka, motorists and pedestrians have reported seeing white foam on the streets after the quakes:

 

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Suicide Attack in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park Kills 70, Injures 250 in Pakistan

Posted: 1:08 am ET
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USCG Lahore released a emergency message on March 27 informing U.S. citizens that a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people outside of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore’s Iqbal Town neighborhood in the evening hours of Sunday. It urged U.S. citizens to avoid this area and if aware of any U.S. citizens injured in this attack, to please call the American Embassy in Islamabad at 051 201 4000. Media reports say at least 70 people have now been confirmed dead and about 250 people have been wounded.

 

 

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Car Bomb Targets Turkish Capital, Ankara: Explosion Kills 32, Injures 100+ in Kizilay Area

Posted: 5:40 pm EDT
Updated: 6:58 pm EDT
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Media reports says that a huge explosion hit the Turkish capital of Ankara on March 13, killing 27 people and wounding at least 75 others. The blast happened just before 6.45 pm local time at Kizilay Square near Guven Park.   Latest reports put those killed at 32 people and the wounded at over a hundred individuals. Several vehicles were also reportedly destroyed or damaged in the explosion, which took place in the Kizilay area of Ankara, about 25 minutes walk from the U.S. embassy.  This is the third bombing in the country, and the second one in Ankara this year alone. On February 27, 2016, a car bomb targeting the Turkish military in Ankara also killed 29 people.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has sent out an emergency message informing all U.S. citizens of “a bombing near Kizilay Square.”  It says it is working to gather more details and urged citizens “to avoid the Kizilay/Ulus area and follow media reports for the latest developments.” Embassy Ankara previously issued a security message to Americans in Turkey warning of a potential terrorist threat in the Bahcelievler area of Ankara.

 

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And an important note, given speculations about the prior warning issued by the embassy:

 

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US Embassy Bangui: Central Africans Turn Out For Constitutional Referendum

Posted: 12:32 am EDT
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On September 11, 2014, President Obama notified Congress of the deployment of troops to the Central African Republic in preparation of the resumption of operations at the U.S. Embassy in Bangui (see U.S. Troops Deploy to C.A.R. For Resumption of Operations at U.S. Embassy Bangui).  David Brown who was appointed CDA last year concluded his assignment this past October.

A Sept 30, 2015 Travel Warning for the Central Africa Republic warns against all travel there and notes that Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to an unpredictable security situation subject to rapid deterioration, activities of armed groups, and violent crime. The border between Chad and CAR is currently closed. Other land border crossings may close at short notice. U.S. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should seriously consider departing. Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time. This replaces the Travel Warning of May 1, 2015 to reflect the risk of remaining in CAR and continued lack of security.

Indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in CAR since the overthrow of the Government in March 2013. Sectarian violence is frequent and has resulted in thousands of deaths. Despite the creation of a transitional government in January 2014 and the presence of a United Nations stabilization force, the security situation remains highly fragile. Instability has increased as the political transition process unfolds around the upcoming constitutional referendum and elections which were initially scheduled for October 2015.

On October 30th, Jeffrey Hawkins presented his credentials to President Catherine Samba-Panza, as the Ambassador of the United States to the Central African Republic and assumed charge of the U.S. Embassy in Bangui. Here’s a quick summary of USG presence in the country:

The Central African Republic is located in a volatile and poor region and has a long history of development, governance, and human rights problems. The U.S. Embassy in C.A.R. was briefly closed as a result of 1996-97 military mutinies. It reopened in 1998 with limited staff, but U.S. Agency for International Development and Peace Corps missions previously operating there did not return. The Embassy again temporarily suspended operations in November 2002 in response to security concerns raised by the October 2002 launch of a 2003 military coup. The Embassy reopened in 2005. Restrictions on U.S. aid that were imposed after the 2003 military coup were lifted in 2005. Due to insecurity and the eventual overthrow of the C.A.R. Government, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui has been closed since December 2012 (note: post officially resumed limited operation on September 15, 2014).

On December 9, 2015, Embassy Bangui issued an emergency message as one of its embassy vehicles was fired upon near M’Poko International Airport.

According to the AFP, the constitutional referendum on December 13 is the Central Africans’ day to decide whether they backed a proposed constitution that would limit presidential tenure to two terms, fight corruption and crimp the power of armed militias, blamed for years of chaos and terror. It is also seen as a test run for presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place December 27 to end more than two years of conflict between Muslim and Christian militias.

 At PK5, the flashpoint Muslim district of the capital Bangui, Ambassador Jeffrey Hawkins, SRSG Parfait Onanga-Ayanga, and the mayor of the 5th arrondissement Atahirou Balla Dod visited the voting station, where they commended those who participated despite the difficulties.

At PK5, the flashpoint Muslim district of the capital Bangui, Ambassador Jeffrey Hawkins, SRSG Parfait Onanga-Ayanga, and the mayor of the 5th arrondissement Atahirou Balla Dod visited the voting station, where they commended those who participated despite the difficulties.

 

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US Mission Mexico Issues Emergency Message on Hurricane Patricia

Posted: 3:12 pm PDT
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US Mission Mexico issued an emergency message for U.S. citizens in the country on October 23, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. concerning Hurricane Patricia.  It is expected to make landfall as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.  Patricia is also expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8-12 inches which could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Excerpt from the announcement below:

Hurricane Patricia is now being classified as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, and is expected to make landfall on Friday, October 23, 2015, along the coast of Michoacan, Colima (which includes Manzanillo), Jalisco (which includes Puerto Vallarta),and/or Nayarit.  It is now considered one of the most powerful and dangerous hurricanes in recorded history.  If you are in the hurricane warning area, make preparations immediately to protect life and property.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an updated Hurricane Warning for the Pacific Coast of Mexico from San Blas, Nayarit, to Punta San Telmo, Michoacan (see http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?epac).   A hurricane watch is in effect for east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas and north of San Blas to El Roblito, Nayarit.

The center of Hurricane Patricia is expected to make landfall in the hurricane warning area Friday afternoon or evening.  Hurricane Patricia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches, over the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero starting today into Saturday, October 24.  These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods, mud slides (especially in areas of mountainous terrain), and high winds up to 200 MPH that could result in downed power lines. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding, accompanied by large and destructive waves.  Swells may cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.  As Hurricane Patricia moves inland, it will continue to produce heavy rainfall, wind, and dangerous conditions.  Persons located inland in the path of Hurricane Patricia should take appropriate measures to ensure their safety, particularly those located in areas prone to flooding or mudslides. NOAA recommends that residents in low-lying areas near the coast in the hurricane warning area evacuate immediately.

We strongly encourage you to monitor media reports and the Mexican government’s civil protection (“Protección Civil”) website, http://www.proteccioncivil.gob.mx, for updated information about the storm and to follow official instructions.  Stay clear of beaches, as rough seas associated with storm conditions create severe hazards.  Stay clear of downed power lines.  Take precautions against the effects of rain, strong winds, and large and destructive waves. We strongly encourage you to take shelter as advised by Mexican authorities or at any time you feel you are in danger.

Read more here.

image from noaa.gov

image from noaa.gov

Periodic updates are also available on the websites for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara.

You may alert the embassy to U.S. citizens affected by the storm, by sending an email to PatriciaEmergencyUSC@state.gov or CDJPatriciaTF@state.gov and providing as much information as possible.  You can also use the following contact numbers

  • +52-656-227-3105 (From Mexico),
  • 1-888-407-4747 (From the United States and Canada),
  • +1-202-501-4444 (From all other countries)

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US Embassy Burkina Faso Orders Staff to Shelter in Place Amidst Coup Attempt

Posted: 2:06 am EDT
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A Travel Alert was issued for Burkina Faso in early September (see Travel Alert Burkina Faso (September 3, 2015). On September 16, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a “shelter in place” order for its staff amidst what appeared to be a military coup attempt less than a year after the former president, Blaise Compaoré was driven out of power.

On Wednesday, September 16 the U.S. Embassy received reports that military elements are holding the President, Prime Minister, and other Cabinet Members hostage.  Civil society organizations are calling for demonstrators to gather at the Place de la Nation (also known as the Place de la Revolution) and at the Presidential Palace.  Road blocks near the Presidential Palace have been established.  Gunshots have been fired in various locations in Ouagadougou. Embassy employees have been instructed to shelter in place until further notice.  

Likewise, we urge U.S. citizens in Ouagadougou to shelter in place.  U.S. citizens are urged to remain vigilant and to utilize appropriate personal security practices.  The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  The U.S. Embassy urges all U.S. citizens to maintain situational awareness and exercise good judgment.  Be alert and remain aware of your surroundings.  Stay informed and abreast of local media reports.

The Embassy also released the following statement:

Recent Actions By Elements of the Presidential Guard in Burkina Faso

“The United States is deeply concerned about the unfolding events in Burkina Faso. We call for the immediate release of President Kafando, Prime Minister Zida, and all other officials being held.

The United States strongly condemns any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means or resolve internal political disagreements using force.

We call for an immediate end to violence, urge the military personnel involved to return to their primary mission, and reaffirm our steadfast support for the civilian transitional government to continue its work of preparing for free, fair, and credible elections on October 11.”

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US Embassy Tajikistan: Orders Shelter in Place and Temporary Closure

Posted: 5:38 pm EDT
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