Foreigners fleeing Egyptian unrest arrive in Cyprus


A plane with foreign citizens fleeing the Egyptian unrest arrived in Cyprus on Monday afternoon from Cairo, but other flights were canceled because evacuees could not make it to the airport.

An official at Larnaca Airport said about 700 people had been scheduled to arrive during the day on eight flights.

By late afternoon, however, only a U.S. Air Force transport plane had arrived with 42 people on board, all United States diplomats and members of their families.

A second plane which had taken off from Larnaca was scheduled to return by nightfall, but more details were not available.

The airport official said plans had been prepared for the two planes to shuttle between Larnaca and Cairo transporting evacuees who would be able to beat travel restrictions and demonstrations on the roads of the Egyptian capital.

He also said an Air Egypt flight from Larnaca, on which tens of foreign journalists would travel to Cairo on Monday, was canceled. He did not give any reason, but he had earlier said Cairo airport was congested.

The Cyprus government said it would grand requests from any country to use its airports and other facilities to evacuate their citizens from Egypt.

A spokesman said the United Stated had already asked the Cyprus government to facilitate repatriation of several hundred American citizens.

A crisis center has been set up at Larnaca Airport to oversee the operation.

Cyprus, strategically situated in the eastern Mediterranean, has been repeatedly used as a refuge by people fleeing from turmoil in neighboring countries, most notably Lebanon. About 60, 000 people fled to the island during the 34-day war of 2006 with Israel.



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