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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Extra Info (BERNAMA)

Egypt: Air Traffic Congestion Hampers Early Evacuations Of Students

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Air traffic congestion in Egypt has hampered early evacuations of Malaysian students, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot said.

He said that at the moment, the airspace over Egyptian airports were busy with aircraft from countries flying in and out to take stranded passengers.

"The Foreign Ministry's duty is to ensure our students there are safe and the safe place now is in Jeddah. We will take them out, this is our priority," he said at a briefing for parents of Malaysian students currently studying in Egypt.

Riot said the government had to make arrangements with the Egyptian government to allow Malaysian aircraft to enter their airspace.

He said three C-130 aircraft belonging to the air force had left for Jeddah Wednesday to evacuate the students while aircraft from AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines would also help in carrying out the evacuation process.

The ministry was also in the process of sending another monitoring team to Egypt in addition to the existing one headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay, he said.

He also urged parents to contact Wisma Putra and provide the details including the contact numbers of their children in Egypt to ensure that none of them were left out in the evacuation process.

He also denied claims that the operations room at Wisma Putra had not been answering calls, saying the system there was such that even though the phones were engaged, callers would still get the ringing tones as though the phones were not picked up.

Meanwhile, a mother, Zainon Suratman, 50, who attended the briefing said she constantly worried over the safety of four of her family members in Egypt, namely her children Che Nur Azizi Izuddin Che Kadir, 25, Che Mohd Nor Anaz Che Kadir, 21, daughter-in-law Nur Hura Adam, 22, and Abdul Rahman Adam, 15.

She said that her children told her of the worsening situation in the country.

"I was told prison inmates have also bolted out of prisons and looting shops and houses not far from the place where they are staying," she said.

Zainon, from Batu Pahat, said the situation was getting out of control, posing danger to the students.

"It is also difficult to contact them because of the price of prepaid telephone cards there has skyrocketed," she said.

Meanwhile, Salmah Abu Mansor, a government officer here, hoped that her daughter Intan Noratiqah Md Yunus, 21, a third year medical student in Egypt, would be brought home.

"I couldn't sleep thinking about her," she said.

-- BERNAMA February 02, 2011 20:43 PM