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Evacuations begin amid Egypt travel warnings

Reuters/Carlos Barria

Countries around the globe have warned their citizens against visiting Egypt, and some began evacuating people on Sunday as anti-government protests entered a seventh day. The US and Iraq said they were starting to organise evacuations of their nationals, while Turkey, India, Greece, Canada and Saudi Arabia either planned to or had already sent planes to begin taking out their citizens.


Britain, France, China, Australia, Argentina and Nordic countries warned their citizens not to travel to the country, but had no plans yet for full-scale evacuations.

France has warned against unnecessary travel to Egypt, but foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Paris was not yet considering evacuating the roughly 10,000 citizens in the country.

"We have the capacity to react" if need be, Valero told the AFP news agency, adding that France was "permanently monitoring" the situation in Egypt and "completely mobilized" to assist French citizens.

The US plans to begin evacuating people on Monday on government-chartered planes, with Athens, Istanbul and Nicosia identified as possible "safe havens" according to Assitant US Secretary of state Janice Jacobs.

Iraq, Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia ran special flights over the weekend and into Monday to bring home their nationals, as did the ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, which said one of its embassy staff had been killed from a gunshot wound in the unrest.

The Canadian government "is recommending that Canadians leave," Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said on Sunday. Ottawa planned to charter planes to get Canadians to points in Europe, possibly beginning Monday.

Britain was advising its nationals to leave flashpoint Egyptian cities and avoid non-essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor, but tour operators stressed there was no need to pull tourists out of popular Red Sea resorts.

The Foreign Office said some 30,000 Britons were in the country.

In Australia, the Foreign Office upgraded its travel warning from "reconsider your need to travel" to "do not travel". 

China's embassy in Cairo said on its website that the foreign ministry in Beijing had issued a "red" warning on Sunday, "requiring all Chinese citizens not to travel to Egypt."

It urged Chinese nationals in Egypt to be careful of their safety and not to go outside unless necessary, adding that 300 Chinese nationals had been stranded due to cancelled flights.

Russia said it had no plans to immediately evacuate its about 40,000 citizens in Egypt.

"People are continuing to leave for the country's seaside resorts, while signing a note saying they are aware of the situation," a spokesman for the country's tourism agency, Oleg Moseyev, told the Ria Novosti news agency, adding that only three tourists had asked their tour operators to cut short their trip.

A Belgian tour operator, Jetair, announced it was evacuating all its clients from Egypt but the country's government said it would not organize a full-scale evacuation.

Argentina urged its citizens Sunday to avoid travel to Egypt "until the situation returns to normal," according to a statement.

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