Thousands of Foreigners Flee Cairo’s International Airport

Cairo’s international airport was a scene of chaos and confusion Monday as thousands of foreigners sought to flee the unrest in Egypt and countries around the world scrambled to send in planes to fly their citizens out.

Nerves frayed, shouting matches erupted and some passengers even had a fistfight as thousands crammed into Cairo airport’s new Terminal 3 seeking a flight home. The airport’s departures board stopped announcing flight times in an attempt to reduce tensions — but the plan backfired, fueling passengers’ anger.

Making matters worse, check-in counters were poorly staffed because many EgyptAir employees had been unable to get to work due to a 3 p.m.-to-8 a.m. curfew and traffic breakdowns across the Egyptian capital.

“It’s an absolute zoo, what a mess,” said Justine Khanzadian, 23, a graduate student from the American University of Cairo. “I decided to leave because of the protests, the government here is just not stable enough to stay.”

A U.S. military plane landed at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus on ferrying 42 U.S. Embassy officials and their dependents from Egypt. The U.S. Embassy in Nicosia said at least one more plane was expected Monday with about 180 people. U.S. officials have said it will take several flights over the coming days to fly out the thousands of Americans who want to leave Egypt.

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