Cairo embassy urging Koreans to leave Egypt

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Cairo embassy urging Koreans to leave Egypt

The Korean Embassy in Egypt told its citizens yesterday to leave the country because of the ongoing protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s government.

An embassy official told The Associated Press that embassy officials began calling Koreans in Egypt to advise them to return home or move to another country.

The official said that about 1,000 Koreans live in Egypt but didn’t know how many have already left. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul has also asked Koreans not to travel to Egypt.

Local companies operating in Egypt have also started taking safety precautions, according to industry sources. Korean Air, the nation’s largest carrier, said yesterday it has temporarily adjusted its schedule for flights heading from Incheon to Cairo so they don’t arrive in the African country during curfew hours from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. The airline offers three flights to Cairo with a stopover in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Flights coming back to Incheon are offered every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

“The flight that is supposed to head to Cairo on Jan. 31 [today] at 1:15 p.m. has been delayed to depart at 1:15 a.m. on Feb. 1 [tomorrow] so that the aircraft arrives in Cairo at 9:45 a.m., local time, on Feb. 1,” the carrier said in a statement. Flights back to Korea, however, remain unchanged. They depart at 11:15 a.m. local time and do not overlap with curfew hours.

“We have put together an emergency-measure team should there be a need for constant adjustment of flight schedules to Cairo and are keeping a close eye on the crisis,” said an airline official, noting it would inform passengers in advance if there are flight changes.

Local travel agencies offering trips to the Pyramids, including Hana Tour and Lotte Tour, have cancelled their packages and are advising travelers that have already booked flights to Egypt to go to other destinations.

By Lee Eun-joo []

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