The State Department on Sunday told Americans in Kabul that their best chance of survival is to hide.
"The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly including at the airport. There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place," the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan said in a statement published on its website on Sunday.
The embassy then told everyone that even as the Taliban took over Kabul, it is vital to have that paperwork in order.
And access to electrical power and a working Wi-Fi connection are apparently necessary, too.
"U.S. citizens wanting assistance in departing the country should register for any option that might be identified to return to the United States, and must complete this Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group," the embassy notice said.
"Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas should also complete this form if they wish to depart. Please do so as soon as possible. You must complete this form even if you’ve previously submitted your information to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul," it said.
The Afghan and American flags in Kabul are down. The Taliban flag will soon be flying along side that of Al Qaeda as we head into the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I’m disgusted.
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) August 15, 2021
The U.S. Embassy flag was lowered Sunday, signifying the end of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, according to CNN.
As late as Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price had said there was no such thing as an evacuation either in the works or taking place.
"This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not the wholesale withdrawal. What this is (is) a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint," Price told reporters Thursday, according to ABC News. "The embassy remains open and we plan to continue our diplomatic work in Afghanistan."
Prayers for the Marines and other soldiers who are trying to get Americans out of Kabul.
— Steve Wightman (@stevewightman1) August 13, 2021
However, reflecting the fact that times have changed, the emergency notice posted by the embassy Sunday said anyone with questions should not bother phoning.
In fact, it said in boldface type:
"Do not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight. This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options."
As of Sunday afternoon, it was unclear who would even be able to flee the country.
"Two Marines, standing by the runway at the Kabul airport, acknowledged that they were living a moment of history. A little earlier, they said, someone walked by after exiting one of the helicopters cradling a poorly folded American flag: It had just come down off the embassy" https://t.co/Npq7jW5Nrk
— John Ismay (@johnismay) August 15, 2021
Taliban now control the US Embassy in Kabul, Presidential palace & airport.
Kabul is in chaos, panic & mayhem.
Americans being told to "shelter in place" while bloodthirsty jihadists hunt them.
There will be American hostages & bloodshed.
All of it will be Joe Biden's fault.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 15, 2021
All commercial flights suspended from Kabul airport, only military aircraft allowed to operate - Nato official
— Idrees Ali (@idreesali114) August 15, 2021
CNN was reporting as of Sunday afternoon that most diplomatic personnel who had not yet left were at the Kabul airport waiting to flee.