News / Africa

Disarray at Cairo Airport as Thousands Try to Leave Egypt

Passengers wait under large tent set-up in the parking lot outside Cairo's International airport as Egyptians and foreigners prepare to leave Egypt, February 01, 2011
Passengers wait under large tent set-up in the parking lot outside Cairo's International airport as Egyptians and foreigners prepare to leave Egypt, February 01, 2011

Thousands of foreigners are scrambling for flights out of Cairo because of the political turmoil and violence fueled by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he will not step down before the end of his term.

The United States says an evacuation of nonessential U.S. government workers and their families is under way.  Also, the State Department released a statement Tuesday saying about 1,600 U.S. citizens and their family members had been evacuated in an operation that began Monday.

Britain announced Wednesday that it is sending a chartered aircraft to Cairo to bring back British citizens who wish to leave.

However, the head of a charter plane service says efforts to evacuate foreigners are being hampered by a chaotic scene at Cairo's airport. Air Partner chief executive Mark Briffa says the airport is in a state of "pandemonium" because of the huge influx of people and planes.

On Tuesday, Germany announced it had extended a travel warning to all of Egypt, including the popular Red Sea resorts.  Thousands of tourists from Germany, Britain and France travel to Egypt each year.

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