McCully: No rescue for Egypt Kiwis

By Hayden Donnell

Anti-government protesters throw stones during clashes in Cairo, Egypt. Photo / AP
Anti-government protesters throw stones during clashes in Cairo, Egypt. Photo / AP

A chartered flight will not be sent to evacuate New Zealanders caught amid intensifying violence, looting and arson in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Gangs of thugs supporting embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have started attacking reporters, foreigners and rights workers in Cairo, while the army has rounded up foreign journalists.

More than 200 Australians and 940 US citizens have already left the country on chartered evacuation flights.

But Foreign Minister Murray McCully said there was still not enough demand to warrant sending a New Zealand Government-chartered flight.

He renewed calls for New Zealanders who want to get out of the country to book commercial flights.

"New Zealand taxpayers might object to sending a charter flight over there for 12 people," Mr McCully said.

"My reports are that the Australian charter flight was left half empty and a Canadian charter was almost empty.

All the evidence is of a great supply of evacuation capacity and not enough evacuees to fill the planes."

Another 100 Australians staying at the Cairo airport hotel were expected to be evacuated this morning.

Mr McCully said he was in regular contact with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials who are reviewing the security situation in Egypt.

Charter flights out of the country will be available at short notice if more New Zealanders are trapped and under threat, he said.

He advised anyone trapped in Egypt to register with the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo.

"But I have to allow for the option that people may be having problems and can't communicate with the embassy.

"If more people apprehend in the next 24 hours that they want to leave the country then we'll have to look at that.

"Danger is a significant consideration. Whether commercial options are available on a basis that is adequate is also being considered."

The Australian and Canadian Governments are also happy to accommodate New Zealanders who need to evacuate Egypt on their charter flights, said Mr McCully.

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