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article imageCurfew strands thousands of passengers at Cairo airport

By Leo Reyes     Feb 1, 2011 in Politics
Thousands of outbound passengers fleeing Egypt due to on-going citizens protest which calls for president Hosni Mubarak's ouster, remain stranded at Cairo airport due to shortage and cancellation of flights by Egypt Air and other airline companies.
Employees of Egypt Air are having difficulties reporting to work due to the 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. curfew. Traffic breakdown across the capital due to lack of enforcers added to the chaotic situation in and out of the airport.
"It's an absolute zoo, what a mess," Justine Khanzadian, 23, a graduate student from the American University of Cairo, said on Monday.
"I decided to leave because of the protests; the government here is just not stable enough to stay."
Greek oil worker Markos Loukogiannakis, who arrived in Athens on a flight carrying 181 passengers, said confusion reigned at Cairo airport and travellers had to negotiate a string of checkpoints just to get there, smh.com.au reports
"In a 22-km route from our suburb to the airport, we had to get through 19 checkpoints, including nine manned by civilians," he said.
He said security had deteriorated sharply over the past three days in Cairo after police withdrew from the streets.
"There was a wave of attacks by criminal elements who engaged in burglaries and wrecked shops and banks. There was a lot of shooting and residents took up the burden of protecting their property," he said.
Several foreign governments have made arrangement for special flights to transport their citizens out of the troubled country.
Iraq, India and Indonesia have been trying to evacuate their citizens. Indonesia is sending plane to Cairo to evacuate some 6,000 citizens who are mostly students and workers. China has sent four planes to pick up its citizens stranded in Cairo.
Other countries including the US are either currently evacuating their receptive citizens or making plans for their evacuation in the coming days.
In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said last night that the federal government had chartered a Qantas jumbo to fly the stranded Australians to either Frankfurt or London. There are 1100 Australians registered with the embassy in Cairo, but Ms Gillard said there could be as many as 3000 actually in Egypt, smh.com.au reports.
It will be the biggest federal government evacuation since thousands of Australians fled Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006.
At least 150 people have been killed and thousands more were injured during clashes with security forces over the past week.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the United Nations and Western countries for failing to take action against the government crackdown on protesters and the killing of civilians.
Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday that the US must end "life support to the dictator."
More about Egypt, Unrest, Rally, Demonstration, Arab
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