Archive for Alexandria
British nationals in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez are being told to leave if it is safe for them to do so, following days of violent protests across Egypt.
But despite upgrading its advice, the Foreign Office (FCO) is not currently organising a formal evacuation.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was concerned by the number of Britons trying to leave at Cairo airport.
While flights were coming in and out, a lack of staff meant it was not functioning properly, he said.
Meanwhile PM David Cameron and US President Barack Obama called for an “orderly transition” of government.
After discussing the crisis on Sunday, the two leaders said the north African country needed a comprehensive process of political reform, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
They urged the Egyptian government to respond peacefully to protests and condemned the violence of recent days.
Mr Cameron also spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan about the ongoing violence, amid fears that extremists could try to exploit the situation.
The British Ambassador to Egypt, Dominic Asquith, said there were “lots of challenges” at Cairo airport.
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Holidaymakers are also advised to keep in touch with their airline or tour operator
“That’s why we’ve got the team up there trying to help,” he sad. “There are flights going in and out but it is not orderly.”
Several flights to Britain have been cancelled, people are unable to use the internet to book, and schedules have been affected by the curfew imposed in the city.
The curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez was extended by an hour on Sunday night to run from 1500 to 0800 local time rather than 1600 to 0800, Egyptian state television reported.
Most of the 20,000 UK tourists in Egypt are in Red Sea resorts, which the FCO considers to be safe.
The UK Foreign Office is warning against all non-essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor, and say that anyone “without a pressing need” to be the first three of those cities should leave if it wass safe for them to do so.
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt told the BBC: “We do want people to take the opportunity if they are able to leave… but as yet the situation has not reached the stage where we would necessarily be considering chartering planes and getting larger numbers out.”
Passengers arriving at Heathrow from Cairo speak of “frightening” experiences in Egypt
The FO says arrangements are being made for the spouses and children of British embassy staff in Cairo to leave the country on ordinary commercial flights.
Mr Hague said the welfare of British nationals was his top priority and he had sent extra consular staff to Cairo airport.
The foreign secretary also warned that Egypt could fall into the hands of extremists unless there were peaceful reforms.
He told the BBC: “It’s to avert those risks and meet the legitimate grievances and aspirations of the Egyptian people that we are urging the Egyptian authorities… to create a more broadly-based government.”
He said reforms should be “real and visible” and elections “free and fair”.
The US embassy in Cairo is telling Americans to consider leaving the country as soon as possible and will begin evacuation flights on Monday.
In Cairo, demonstrators are back on the streets for a sixth day, demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
Alex Belfield, a presenter with BBC Leeds who is on holiday in Sharm El Sheikh, said tourists at his hotel had been told they could not leave the building for at least 24 hours.
Angry protesters gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo amid increasing lawlessness
“This whole thing seemed a million miles away yesterday, but last night… when we got back [from dinner] the whole atmosphere had changed.
“The barricades had gone up at the front of the hotel… and there are 14 security guards in total, making it very clear we were not able to leave.”
Sean Tipton, from travel body Abta, said UK tourists required to travel to Luxor, which is a popular start and end point for Nile cruises, were “being taken to the cruise very quickly and got out of the place very quickly”.
The FO says it has had no reports of any trouble in Sharm El Sheikh.
In other travel news:
- British Midland International (BMI) said it would operate flights between Heathrow and Cairo on Monday but would change the times to operate outside the curfew. Its flights to Cairo were cancelled on Sunday
- Easyjet said it was operating a normal schedule to Egypt but offering passengers the chance to either rebook, or cancel and receive a voucher valid for future travel for up to a year
- Tui, the parent company of Thompson and First Choice, cancelled a flight to Aswan on Monday and one to Luxor on Tuesday. All excursions to Cairo and Luxor were also scrapped, but flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam were not affected.
- Other travel companies have cancelled excursions from Red Sea resorts to Cairo and ancient Egyptian sites in Giza and Luxor
- British Airways and Egyptair have altered their schedules
- The Independent’s travel editor, Simon Calder, said package holidays from the UK to Red Sea resorts were going ahead as normal, and tour operators had no liability to anybody who decided not to go.
Source: BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12318528)
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 2,000-year-old temple in Alexandria dedicated to a cat goddess.
The temple is the first trace of the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be revealed in Alexandria.
The find confirms the Greek dynasty of Egyptians continued the worship of ancient animal deities.
Many more ruins of the ancient capital of Hellenic Egypt lie preserved under the modern city, yet to be unearthed, archaeologists say.
The temple, discovered in the Kom el-Dekkah neighbourhood of the city, is believed to belong to Queen Berenike II, wife of Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the third century BC, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities has said.
The Greek-speaking Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt for almost 300 years, after the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great in 305BC until Queen Cleopatra was ousted by the Romans.
The Temple to Bastet in Alexandria
The temple is the first part of the royal palace to be unearthed
The temple is 60m (200ft) high and 15m (50ft) wide.
Archaeologists found statues of Bastet, worshipped by the Greek-speaking Egyptians as the moon goddess.
For thousands of years the Egyptian Pharaohs believed Bastet was a lion-headed goddess, a relative of the sun-god Ra and a ferocious protector.
But her influence waned as the Pharaohs declined, and the Hellenistic Egyptians resurrected her as the equivalent of the ancient Greek deity Artemis.
Other artefacts were also discovered in the dig, including pots, a Roman water cistern, and the granite statue of a senior official dating from between 205BC to 222BC.
Modern-day Alexandria was built directly on top of the ancient city, and archaeologists say ruins of whole cities, palaces and ships remain to be discovered.
The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt were descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted generals during his conquests of Egypt, Persia and his attack on India.
After Alexander’s death, Ptolemy returned to Alexandria to become king and his descendants ruled until the Roman leader Octavian — who later became Emperor Augustus — defeated Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemaic line.
Leading Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said the temple may have been used as a quarry in later years, as there are a large number of missing blocks.
Source: BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8468803.stm)
A huge granite block thought to have once formed part of a temple pillar in a sunken palace of Cleopatra has been raised from the sea at Alexandria.
The nine-tonne stone, said to be from a temple to the goddess Isis, was lifted by crane out of the waters which have covered the palace for centuries.
It was cut from a slab of red granite quarried in Aswan, some 1,100km (700 miles) to the south, officials say.
There are plans to exhibit it in a new museum devoted to the sunken city.
Earthquakes are thought to have toppled the city in the 4th Century.
“This is one of the most important archaeological finds in Alexandria, among the 400 items recovered by the Greek archaeological team that has been engaged in underwater research since 1998,” Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni said at the scene.
Cleopatra’s palace and other buildings and monuments lie strewn on the seabed in harbour of Alexandria, the country’s second-largest city.
In recent years, excavators have discovered dozens of sphinxes in the harbour, along with pieces of what is believed to be the Alexandria Lighthouse, or Pharos, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The block is the first major artefact extracted from the harbour since 2002, when authorities banned further removal of major objects from the sea for fear it would damage them.
It was discovered by a Greek expedition in 1998.
To retrieve it, divers had to spend weeks cleaning it of mud and scum before dragging it across the sea floor for three days to bring it closer to the harbour’s edge.
A lorry stood by to ferry the block to a freshwater tank where it will lie for six months until all the salt, which acts as a preservative underwater but damages it once exposed, is dissolved.
Zahi Hawas, Egypt’s top archaeologist said the block was unique.
“We believe it was part of the complex surrounding Cleopatra’s palace,” he was quoted by The Associated Press as saying as he watched the block being brought ashore.
“This is an important part of Alexandria’s history and it brings us closer to knowing more about the ancient city.”
Source: BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8419746.stm)