London: Britons Urged To Avoid Egypt’s Cities As Demos Threaten To Overthrow Government: UPDATED

29 Jan

LATEST NEWS UPDATE:

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Egypt as it sends a consular rapid deployment team to Cairo help British nationals.

Egypt Travel: Foreign Office Gives Advice Play video

Video: Egypt Travel: Foreign Office Gives Advice

Last night, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that there had been a travel update advisory for Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

Mr Hague said: “The safety of British Nationals is absolutely paramount. In light of the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt we have carefully reviewed our advice and now advise against all but essential travel.

“This does not affect transits through Cairo airport for onward travel to other destinations, and it does not cover Egypt’s Red Sea resorts.”

The Foreign Office also advised all Britons currently in Egypt to follow the news on TV and radio and not go out in central Cairo or other areas where demonstrations are taking place.

The advisory said: “British nationals should abide by the nationwide curfew from 1800 to 0700 Egypt time. We are not, at present, advising British nationals to leave the country.”

It added that the embassy and consulates general were providing consular assistance and also sending a rapid deployment team to Cairo as soon as possible.

“We are in close contact with Abta in the UK and tour operators and airlines in Egypt,” the Foreign Office website advised.

“We continue to advise British Nationals to stay in close touch with their tour operator if they have one.”

:: The Foreign Office is providing travel updates for Britons on Facebook and Twitter.

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Britons have been warned to steer clear of Egypt‘s main cities as violent demonstrations threaten to overthrow the government.

Britons urged to avoid Egypt cities Enlarge photo

With President Hosni Mubarak facing the biggest challenge of his three decade rule, the Foreign Office cautioned against “all but essential” travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

Tourist sites have also been shut down, while tanks were said to be stationed outside of Western embassies.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “In light of the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt we have carefully reviewed our advice and now advise against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. This does not affect transits through Cairo airport for onward travel to other destinations, and it does not cover Egypt’s Red Sea resorts.”

The Foreign Office confirmed the advice extended to include Giza, the famous pyramid site near Cairo. Meanwhile, tour operators including Thomson and First Choice have cancelled excursions to Cairo until further notice.

A spokeswoman for travel association Abta said: “The vast majority of British holidaymakers in Egypt are based in resorts in the Red Sea area, for example Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. This is a very considerable distance from the affected areas and these resorts remain unaffected. Any tourists based in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor or Suez should liaise with their tour operator or airline regarding their holiday arrangements.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opponent of Mr Mubarak, was put under house arrest almost immediately after returning to the country to join the dissidents.

The president attempted to regain the initiative in the volatile situation on Friday night by making his first public address. “I have asked the government to present its resignation today,” he said on state TV. And he insisted he understood the protesters’ grievances but that a thin line divided liberty from chaos, and he would not allow Egypt to be destabilised.

Meanwhile, around 50 Britons were forced to spend the night in hotels after an Egypt-bound passenger plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing when a note containing a bomb threat was apparently found on board. The EgyptAir jet, which had departed from London’s Heathrow Airport, was carrying 251 passengers when it landed at Athens International Airport, officials said.

The request to land was made by the pilot of flight 778, bound for Cairo, and it arrived at 8.39pm local time (6.39pm GMT). Police were checking the plane for explosives but it is not known if any were found.

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