In the case of a major disaster or incident abroad which affects the health and safety of citizens of the United States residing or traveling abroad, the Secretary of State shall provide prompt and thorough notification of all appropriate information concerning such disaster or incident and its effect on United States citizens to the next-of-kin of such individuals. Notification shall be provided through the most expeditious means available, including telephone communications, and shall include timely written notice. The Secretary, through the appropriate offices of the Department of State, shall act as a clearinghouse for up-to-date information for the next-of-kin and shall provide other services and assistance. Assistance shall include liaison with foreign governments and persons and with United States air carriers concerning arrangements for the preparation and transport to the United States of the remains of citizens who die abroad, as well as disposition of personal estates pursuant to section 2715c of this title.
For purposes of this section and sections 2715b and 2715c of this title, the term “consular officer” includes any United States citizen employee of the Department of State who is designated by the Secretary of State to perform consular services pursuant to such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe.