The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Tuesday said an emergency message it sent to US citizens in Taiwan on Feb. 10 was a reminder to be prepared for natural disasters, after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6.
The AIT represents US interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.
It explained the purpose of the emergency message after a local TV station reported that the AIT sent an e-mail to US citizens about a possible evacuation in the event of a cross-strait conflict.
Citing an unnamed source, the report claimed the message said that if cross-strait tensions were to escalate, an evacuation plan could be launched under the codeword “earthquake.”
The report did not present a copy of the message or any details to confirm that it even existed.
The only emergency message sent by the AIT so far this year has been the message on Feb. 10, titled “Preparing Now for Disasters.”
An AIT spokesperson said the message was “part of our regular, ongoing outreach conducted to US citizens worldwide,” which is done because “the welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.”
The message, which is also available on the AIT’s Web site, says news of the earthquake “reminds us that a disaster can occur at any time, unexpectedly, and the best time to prepare for one is now.”
“AIT reminds US citizens in Taiwan that Taiwan is in a region prone to disasters. If you find yourself affected by an unexpected disaster, your own preparations will be most important,” it says.
The message also urged Americans to prepare a “go-bag” to ensure documents and necessary supplies are easily accessible in case of emergency.
It also advised US citizens to enroll in the state department’s Smart Traveler-Enrollment Program to receive security messages.
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