American Students Escape Egypt

Egypt Students Return
Lucy Kourides hugs her son Nick as he arrives in the United States from Egypt.

Lucy Kourides is used to welcoming home her 20-year-old son, Nick, from trips abroad.

"Oh! Oh my god it's good to see you!" said Lucy to Nick when he arrived.

"It's good to see you, too," Nick responded.

But she savored this reunion at New York's JFK airport more than the rest. Nick -- a student at the American University in Cairo - barely made it out of Egypt. He says Cairo's airport was mobbed with thousands of people desperate to leave.

"We were worried that we might be stuck there for a while, so we got out," said Nick.

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Nick was one of more than 2,300 Americans evacuated from Egypt this week aboard one of 19 State Department-sponsored flights. Officials say other U.S. citizens found alternate flights out of the country.

"Many other Americans departed through private means, either through commercial airlines or on private charters," said James Pettit of the U.S. State Department.

Cornell University student Alexandra Woodhouse nearly found herself stranded in Egypt this week, but scrambled aboard a flight out Wednesday. She says the violence in Cairo came right to her front door.

"You could smell tear gas outside of our window, it was a very difficult time to see the place that I loved so much in distraught," said Woodhouse.

Now, safe at home in the United States, Alexandra says her thoughts are with friends she's left behind.

"I want nothing more than to go back but I don't know when that's gonna happen," said Alexandra, sobbing.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo say another State Department-chartered flight left Egypt Sat., headed to Greece. But officials say because commercial flights are now available, it's unlikely there will be additional U.S. government charters after Feb. 5.

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.