U.S. Begins Evacuating Nationals Amid More Warnings Over Egypt Revolt
The United States started organizing Sunday the evacuation of its nationals from Egypt as an angry anti-government revolt raged into a sixth day amid increasing lawlessness and mass jail breaks.
"The U.S. embassy in Cairo informs U.S. citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the department of state is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe," an embassy statement said, as other countries issued travel warnings and tourists scrambled for flights out.
Turkey said Sunday it was sending three planes to Egypt to fly home its nationals. The South Korean Embassy also told its nationals to leave the country.
Australia and China told their citizens not to travel to Egypt Sunday, as Tokyo appealed for help for 500 Japanese stranded at Cairo airport
The U.S. embassy statement came as thousands of protesters again crowded Cairo's Tahrir square, epicenter of the biggest demonstrations in Egypt in three decades, demanding President Hosni Mubarak's ouster despite his reform promises.
As troops manned checkpoints, frisking people for weapons before allowing them in, the square reverberated with the anti-Mubarak chants that have come to characterize the six-day popular revolt.
Amid a good-tempered atmosphere that was far from the chaotic scenes of the past two days, the demonstrators bore an army officer in uniform high on their shoulders, while army vehicles drove around with "No to Mubarak" spraypainted on their flanks in Arabic.
With fears of insecurity rising and a death toll of more than 100, thousands of convicts broke out prisons across Egypt overnight after they overwhelmed guards or after prison personnel fled their posts.
A security official said dozens of bodies were seen lying on a road near Cairo's Abu Zaabal prison on Sunday after rioting there killed at least eight prisoners.
With rampant pillaging in more than five days of deadly protests, many Egyptians believe that the police have deliberately released prisoners in order to spread chaos and emphasize the need for the security forces.
At daybreak, groups of club-carrying vigilantes slowly left the streets that they had been protecting from rampant looting overnight amid growing insecurity as the Arab world's most populous nation faced an uncertain future.
Youths handed over to the army those they suspected of looting, with the police who had been fighting running battles with stone-throwing protesters in the first days of the demonstrations hardly visible.
Many petrol stations are now running out of fuel, motorists said, and many bank cash machines have either been looted or are no longer working. Egyptian banks and the stock exchange have been ordered closed on Sunday.
Stock markets in several Gulf countries, where many leading firms have interests in Egypt, dropped Sunday on mounting concerns over developments in the world's most populous Arab nation.
Cairo's stock market remained closed after it had plummeted 10 percent before trading was suspended on Thursday.(AFP-AP-Naharnet)