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U.S. evacuation from Egypt begins

Jan. 31, 2011 at 11:44 AM   |   Comments

Many bringing citizens back from Egypt
Many bringing citizens back from Egypt
CAIRO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The first wave of foreigners left Egypt Monday amid growing fears for public safety, the U.S. State Department said.

The voluntary evacuations to Athens, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Nicosia, Cyprus, and other nearby "safe-haven" European locations will continue until all Americans wanting to leave but unable to get commercial flights are airlifted to safety, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs said.

The State Department tweeted Monday morning 220 Americans had been evacuated. State was hoping to get 900 out by the end of the day.

An estimated 90,000 Americans live and work in Egypt, most in cities now roiled by anti-government protests, looting and a military presence.

U.S. citizens taking the charter flights will be required to reimburse Washington for the airfare at commercial-flight rates, Jacobs said.

The State Department set up an evacuation hot line at 1-202-501-4444, or 1-888-407-4747 in the United States, and a special e-mail address, egyptemergencyusc@state.gov. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is closed indefinitely.

Jacobs said Washington was largely relying on friends and families in the United States to relay evacuation information to stranded Americans.

Other countries evacuating citizens Monday included Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, China, Greece, India, Iraq, Israel, Japan and Turkey, the governments said.

Britain, France, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand were among the countries poised to evacuate but waiting. They urged their nationals to avoid "non-essential" travel and encouraged those wishing to leave to take commercial flights.

More than 100 protesters were reported killed since demonstrations began Tuesday. About 750 police officers and 1,500 protesters were injured.

Cairo International Airport, Egypt's busiest, was packed with thousands of nervous and frustrated travelers anxious to flee, including Egyptians hoping to escape the turmoil, The New York Times reported Monday.

More than 1,000 people unable to get inside Terminal 1, used by foreign carriers including Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, sat outside on sidewalks and in the parking lot surrounded by luggage, the Times said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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