First Americans Evacuated From Egypt

Cairo, Egypt -- The first of two charter planes carrying U.S. citizens out of chaotic Egypt landed Monday in Cyprus, the beginning of what could be a lengthy evacuation effort amid escalating unrest across the country.

At least two flights, carrying 219 Americans between them, were able to take off before Egypt's 3 p.m. curfew went into effect, according to the U.S. State Department.

The first flight, carrying 42 people, landed in Cyprus, according to the State Department. The second, carrying 177 Americans, took off Monday for Athens, Greece, but had not yet landed, the government said.

With at least 2,400 people seeking evacuation as of Monday morning, getting all Americans out of the country could take some time, said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

"People should be prepared for a very long wait," Jacobs said.

The U.S. flights were part of a broadening effort by governments around the world to transport their citizens out of Egypt, where widespread demonstrations against the government have led to clashes between protesters and police, looting and other dangers.

So far, at least Canada, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, India and Israel have staged or announced evacuation flights. Mexico has also urged its citizens to consider leaving Egypt.

About 52,000 Americans were estimated to be in Egypt. As of Monday, about 2,400 have asked for help getting out of the country, according to Jacobs. But she said she expected those numbers to go up as the unrest continues.

The State Department said Americans seeking flights out of the country should make their way to Cairo International Airport's HAJ Terminal 4, where U.S. government officials will arrange charter travel out of the country.

The flights will head to Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, according to the State Department.