Planes carrying 480 Chinese nationals take off from Cairo airport

09:44, February 01, 2011      

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Two planes, carrying a total of 480 Chinese nationals who were stranded in Egypt, took off from the Cairo airport early Tuesday, and are heading for China, according to the Chinese embassy in Egypt.

The planes, one dispatched by Air China International and the other by Hainan Airlines, left the Cairo International Airport at around 1:43 a.m.and 2:23 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

Some 424 Chinese nationals are still stranded in the Cairo airport, according to a Chinese embassy source. Two more planes from China will arrive in Cairo at about 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, to bring the rest back home.

As several thousand passengers are waiting in the airport, food and drinks have almost sold out in shops inside. The Chinese embassy have been sending snacks or Chinese meals and bottles of mineral water to the stranded Chinese passengers everyday.

A traveller surnamed Zhou, from China's Hong Kong, arrived at the airport Sunday night only to find her flight had been canceled. The woman, who travelled alone, slept on the floor for the whole night.

She said she felt relieved seeing the staff from the Chinese embassy come to the airport everyday.

"I'm not afraid of the violence, but want to go home as soon as possible to spend the Chinese Lunar New Year with my family," she said.

There are still another 300 Chinese who now stay in Cairo hotels and Egyptian tourist spots and need to return, said the embassy source.

The Chinese government has promised that it would dispatch more planes to take stranded nationals back home.

A working taskforce, composed of officials from China's Foreign Ministry, National Tourism Administration, Ministry of Public Security and Civil Aviation Administration, are currently working with the Chinese embassy in Cairo to provide assistance to stranded Chinese in Egypt and to try to facilitate their early return to China.

Mass anti-government protests broke out across Egypt on Jan. 25 and have continued for seven days. A large number of inbound and outbound international flights at the Cairo airport have been canceled in the past few days.

A Cairo airport source told Xinhua late Monday that it was still unclear when flights to China would return to normal.

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