(Updates with evacuation flights and State Department comment from second paragraph.)
Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning today urging Americans to leave Egypt as soon as possible and avoid travel there “due to ongoing political and social unrest.”
U.S. government-chartered flights will be available starting tomorrow morning to evacuate private American citizens as well non-emergency U.S. embassy personnel and diplomatic dependents to “safe-haven” destinations in Europe, Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, said in a telephone briefing.
She said she didn’t know how many of the “thousands” of American citizens in Egypt will follow the U.S. government’s advice to leave the country.
“U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so,” the travel warning said. “The Government of Egypt has imposed a curfew from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez until further notice, and U.S. citizens should obey curfew orders and remain indoors during curfew hours.”
“Cairo airport is open and operating, but flights may be disrupted and transport to the airport may be disrupted due to the protests.”
Jacobs said the flight details were still being worked out today, and that it was up to American citizens to contact the embassy and to make their way to the airport for the charter flights, which supplement the commercial airlines. She said taxicabs are available in the city to transport people to the airport and this evacuation plan doesn’t including bringing in U.S. forces to ensure Americans get safely to the airport.
“We are going to have enough flights to take out all American citizens and their immediate family members who are looking to leave on one of these charter flights,” she said.
Those taking the charter flights will be required to sign a promissory note to reimburse the government for the cost of transportation, as required by law, Jacobs said.
In addition to Cairo, she said, Americans are in Alexandria and Suez as well as tourist areas such as Luxor 450 miles (720 kilometers) south of the capital.
--Editors: Ann Hughey, Terry Atlas.
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