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At least 2,600 Americans in Egypt have asked US officials for help in evacuating the crisis-torn Arab nation, the State Department said Monday, noting the number is expected to rise.

More than 1,200 have already left the country on nine flights headed for Larnaca in Cyprus, Istanbul and Athens, spokesman Philip Crowley said.

Cypriot officials said the first US evacuees had arrived in Cyprus — 42 US embassy staff and their dependents aboard a military aircraft. A charter flight carrying 180 passengers, most of them Americans, was due later in the day.

At least six more flights were planned on Tuesday, and about 40 extra consular staff had been deployed to Cairo and the three arrival points in a bid to speed up the evacuations, he added.

“Roughly 2,600 people have contacted by a variety of means and registered with us that they wish to leave the country,” Crowley said.

“Obviously, today we’ve, kind of, put a pretty good dent in that number, but, obviously, that will… fluctuate day to day, as American citizens make their own decisions about whether to stay in Egypt or to leave.”

The United States and several other countries have asked the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to serve as an evacuation hub.

Source: AFP

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