Britain pulls families, some embassy staff from Egypt

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Britain is evacuating diplomatic family members and non-essential embassy staff from Egypt amid growing violence in protests against President Hosni Mubarak's rule, the government said Thursday.

"Staff who are not immediately involved in responding to the crisis or helping British nationals are being temporarily removed in line with our travel advice," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The Foreign Office currently recommends against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. Egypt's Red Sea resorts are not affected.

A Foreign Office spokesman said there were "risks to embassy staff from the situation in Cairo. The embassy is close to Tahrir Square," where pro- and anti-Mubarak clashes have left five people dead.

"In some cases their normal roles have become impossible for now -- UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) staff for example cannot make commercial visits."

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed separately that the families of embassy staff were also leaving.

"Dependents are coming back," Cameron's spokesman told a briefing.

It was not immediately clear how many staff and dependents were affected.

The Foreign Office said however that it had increased the number of embassy staff in Cairo by 50 to respond to the crisis in Egypt and help British nationals.

It said earlier that it was sending a second charter plane to protest-hit Cairo to bring back its nationals who want to leave.

A first plane was dispatched earlier this week and was due to leave Cairo on Thursday carrying around 180 Britons.

Passengers have to pay roughly £300 ($500, 350 euros) each, the same amount that passengers on the first flight were asked to pay.

Cameron said Wednesday there were around 3,000 British nationals still in Cairo.

© 2011 AFP

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