With a revolution boiling over on the streets of Egypt and so-called “million man marches” scheduled for Tuesday, hundreds of frightened foreigners are clearing out of Cairo.
One of the first commercial planes packed with fleeing passengers landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport Monday evening.
“We’re just glad to be out today because I think tomorrow is not going to be better,” said Beverly McEneaney, a tourist from Jacksonville, Florida.
McEneaney and her husband were on a prolonged vacation in Egypt when organizers determined it was too dangerous to continue their sightseeing itinerary. For three days their tour group huddled inside an airport hotel while the protests and looting escalated outside.
Meanwhile Cairo International Airport has filled up with people desperate to dash out of the increasingly unstable nation. There have been reports of food shortages and people sleeping on ticket counters inside terminals.
“People had moved toward the Egypt Air counter and broken the glass,” said Ray McEneaney. “People were cutting. There’s a swarm. Something like 30,000 Americans trying to get out of there.”
The McEneaney’s made it out on Egypt Air Flight 95. Also on the flight was Ragab Ahmed, an Egyptian American who lives in New York. After going through customs, he rushed to the WNBC camera to denounce Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Ahmed also downplayed predictions that anti-American Islamic fundamentalists might fill the power void if Mubarak steps down.
“No. No. No,” said Ahmed. Because most of the Egyptian people are pro-America. They like America. They like American people.”
At last check, about 2,400 Americans had informed the US Embassy of their wishes to leave Egypt. Aside from commercial jets bound for America, the State Department has provided nine charter planes to get about 1,200 U.S. citizens home.