Anxious Americans Flee Egypt's Chaos

Americans Flee Egypt
Charlotte Naugl waits for a flight from Egypt back to the United States.
CBS

CAIRO - "Are there any Americans here?" asked a U.S. consular official with a bullhorn in a crowded Egyptian airport.

The race to get out of Cairo as anti-American sentiment starts to grow among some of the pro-government protestors, reports CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy.

"It got kind of violent yesterday with the demonstrations and our apartment -- our hostel -- is right next to the river, so we decided it would be a lot safer and our parents are really worried about us," said Erin Schumann, an intern at the American University in Cairo.

"We were warned to stay away from the demonstrations because we could become targets as Americans," said Warigia Bowman a teacher at the American University in Cairo.

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With some 90,000 Americans in Egypt, the U.S. Embassy here coordinated a huge effort to evacuate many tourists and residents from hotels and private homes and get them onto special charter flights out of the country.

"We are prepared to get out up to 1,500 people today, that is what our plan is, we are adding planes on an as-needed basis," said Adam Lenert, deputy press attache, U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Over 2,000 Americans have been evacuated already, and with the demonstrations here suddenly turning more violent, the U.S. Embassy is saying anyone who wants to leave should get out now.

Bowman got worried about her three young children.

"Well the kids have been in a little bit of shock - Mariamu (who is 8) is stressed out and she said 'I don't like the military situation'," said Bowman. "I just said there were bad men or bad people coming and we needed to stay inside."

Getting to the right place at the airport wasn't easy

"When we got there it was a big disaster with hundreds of people pushing each other and it was a big mess," said Bowman. "My colleague brought his children and they almost got trampled and so he turned back."

Adding to the anxiety of many Americans here was the news that American journalists and human rights workers in Cairo were being targeted for arrest -- something that came as no surprise to Jerry Leach, who has lived here for five years.

"Whenever the discussion turns political, then the anti-Americanism will surface," said Jerry Leach, head of American Studies Department at the American University in Cairo.

Having the ability to fly out to safety made some Americans feel guilty about leaving their Egyptian friends -- who are not able to get on these flights -- behind.

"I am saddened, my heart is just broken by what I have seen," said Charlotte Naugl, who has taught English in Cairo for six years. "I am going back to the States for a while -- I want to come back, I have left an apartment full of everything, my books, my life is here."

But life here has become simply too dangerous for many Americans.

As for the Americans who have decided to stay in Cairo, like most other people who live in the city and are apprehensive about what is going to happen here, they have stocked up on food at home and are trying to keep as low a profile as possible.