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Evacuations Increase as Egypt Protests Continue

Passengers wait for check-in at Cairo's international airport, Egypt, January 31, 2011

Passengers wait for check-in at Cairo's international airport, Egypt, January 31, 2011

Thousands of evacuees streamed out of Egypt Monday, seeking to escape the continued unrest that has gripped the Arab nation for nearly a week.

The United States said it has evacuated more than 1,200 of its citizens on nine government-chartered flights from Egypt to Turkey, Cyprus and Greece in a 24-hour airlift. It expects to fly out roughly 1,400 more in the coming days.

Officials in Turkey and Cyprus said they were making contingency plans to receive tourists evacuated from Egypt, and to speed them on to their destinations.

The U.S. State Department said Monday it plans to expand its voluntary evacuation effort beyond Cairo to reach stranded American citizens in other cities such as Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. The U.S., which has about 50,000 citizens registered at its Cairo Embassy, said more than 2,600 people have contacted officials requesting evacuation assistance..

The U.S. flights are part of a broadening effort by governments around the world to transport their citizens out of Egypt, where widespread anti-government protests have led to clashes, looting and other dangers.

Canada, India, Israel, Indonesia and China are among the nations sending charter flights to evacuate their citizens.

Britain, Germany and France, which send thousands of tourists to Egypt each year, say at this point they have no plans to evacuate their nationals, many of whom are vacationing at Red Sea resorts a considerable distance from the affected areas.

However, the British and German governments, among others, advised against all but essential travel to Egypt's main cities.

The chaos and uncertainty gripping Egypt spread Monday to Cairo's international airport, as thousands of foreigners crowded the facility in a desperate attempt to flee the unrest.

Many airline counters were abandoned by staff, and witnesses said the airport has run out of food and water.

A U.S.-chartered flight carrying 42 U.S. Embassy officials landed at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus Monday. An airport spokesman told VOA that all evacuees will be given provisional lodgings until they depart for the United States or other destinations.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency says Moscow is ready to evacuate its citizens from Egypt, but has not announced it will do so.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.