2 Feb 2011

More New Zealanders leave Egypt

7:04 pm on 2 February 2011

About half those wanting to leave Egypt have been offered or taken up flights out of the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says.

The country is in turmoil as mass protests calling for President Hosni Murbarak to step down continue. The UN estimates 300 people have died in clashes over the past week.

MFAT said on Wednesday that 264 New Zealanders were registered as being in Egypt, down from 299 the day before, as a number have left the country, while a small number of new registrations had been received.

As of Wednesday, 178 of those registered indicated that they are contemplating leaving the country and, since then, flights have either been taken or offered to 85 of those.

Others have said they do not wish to leave at this stage.

The ministry understands there is space on commercial flights, but it is difficult to make bookings from within Egypt because of problems with internet connections.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government made the right decision to block book seats for New Zealanders in Cairo on commercial flights, instead of deploying military planes or charter flights.

Mr Key says some people have turned down flights to destinations they were not interested in, such as Frankfurt, while others had decided not to leave.