State Department Begins Evacuating Americans from Egypt

Images of chaos from Cairo and throughout Egypt dominated TV, print and online news this weekend. Today, the U.S. State Department began evacuating citizens. Meanwhile, tour operators are canceling trips to the country.

With the protests about to enter their second week, The New York Times and other sources are now reporting that the State Department has begun a voluntary evacuation of American citizens from Egypt on specially chartered flights as protesters returned in large numbers to the central Liberation Square. The army has increased its presence and the security police have been redeployed in the capital.

The first American government flight departed Cairo International Airport for Larnaca, Cyprus, in the early afternoon with 42 passengers, and as many as eight more flights were preparing to take off for other nearby “safe haven” destinations, including Turkey and Greece, said Elizabeth O. Colton, a spokeswoman for the American Embassy in Cairo. Two more flights left for Athens later in the afternoon with about 177 passengers each, she said.

Trafalgar Tours has canceled upcoming tours due to arrive in Egypt up to and including February 12, and customers may choose alternative tours or a full refund. Clients who plan to travel on the company's Egypt tours from February 13 through February 28 and who wish to cancel and rebook their tours will be issued a letter of credit being in the amount of any penalty assessed. This letter of credit will be valid for travel through the end of 2011.

Cosmos tours and Avalon Waterways cruises in Egypt have been canceled through February 28. Customers currently booked on upcoming Cosmos or Avalon Egypt tours or cruises through February 28, 2011 can rebook their tour or cruise without penalty or choose to receive a refund.  We are recommending that future travel is rescheduled for April or later, or until the situation subsides.

Photograph courtesy of Ramy Raoof
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