Foreigners leave Egypt amid mass protests

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Foreign governments pulled their nationals from Egypt Tuesday amid massive anti-government protests shaking the Arab nation as Washington ordered non-essential embassy staff there to leave.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced Britain was sending a chartered aircraft to Cairo on Wednesday to bring back citizens who wished to leave.

"I will send further flights if we see a need to do so," Hague told parliament.

Hague later said that while there was a sufficient number of commercial flights between Egypt and Britain, he wanted to give the estimated 2,000 British nationals in Cairo every opportunity to leave if they wished.

Meanwhile, British tour operators offered a string of promotions on holidays in Egypt's Red Sea resorts which reportedly remain relatively calm and popular with holidaymakers despite unrest elsewhere in the country.

But Germany widened its travel warning to include all of Egypt including the Red Sea tourist resorts.

Germany's foreign ministry "urgently warns against travelling to anywhere in Egypt in view of recent developments and the unstable situation," a statement said.

"This advice also applies to the tourist resorts of the Red Sea, even if the situation is calm there at present," it said.

Following the announcement, Germany's DRV travel federation announced tour operators were cancelling their trips to Egypt until mid-February.

In Athens, the Greek foreign ministry said it had evacuated by air 155 nationals living in the Egyptian seaside city of Alexandria.

The first of three chartered flights carrying Greek expatriates touched down at Athens international airport around 1500 GMT, followed by two others, the foreign ministry said.

Austria also started evacuating hundreds of its citizens from Egypt overnight, the foreign ministry said.

An Austrian Airlines flight commissioned by the ministry landed shortly after midnight in Vienna with 138 passengers on board.

A plane from the Austrian army followed Tuesday morning with 66 travellers, the ministry said.

The jitters stretched as far as Asia, where Taiwan announced it had chartered a plane to evacuate 129 people from Egypt and Hong Kong security officials said they were working on getting their own tourists home as soon as possible.

"The government is working closely with the (Chinese) embassy on a suitable and safe arrangement for their departure from Egypt as soon as possible," Lai Tung-kwok, Hong Kong's undersecretary for security said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the United States ordered the departure of all non-emergency US government staff from Egypt.

"The Department of State will continue to facilitate the evacuation of US citizens who require assistance," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in announcing the move.

He said the departure of all non-emergency US government personnel was ordered "in light of recent events."

Rabat also said it would repatriate some 300 Moroccans aboard two flights.

The pullouts come as hundreds of thousands of protesters in Cairo and Alexandria demanded the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

© 2011 AFP

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