Hundreds of Australians are preparing to
evacuate from Egypt on the first Federal Government-chartered plane, as
crowds gather in Cairo for a ninth day to try to force president Hosni
Mubarak from office.
About 700 Australians, many of whom were caught up in the recent
violence in the capital, have registered for one of two evacuation
flights Wednesday and Thursday (local time).
One couple from Melbourne were on the streets when police began shooting
at protesters, while a Tasmanian man says he was tear-gassed.
Others have had to cancel tours or holidays and have had no luck getting on commercial flights.
Cairo's airport has been swamped by people trying to leave in recent
days, with reports of travellers breaking windows and doors in a
desperate bid to get on flights.
Much of Egypt has shut down - businesses are still closed, the rail
network has stopped and army tanks and soldiers still guard the city
The mood following Mr Mubarak's speech late Tuesday saying he would stay
on until September has turned to renewed anger and troops clashed
briefly with protesters on the outskirts of Cairo.
At least 1,500 people were in Tahrir Square, which has become a focal
point for the protests and drew hundreds of thousands on Tuesday. Many
had camped in tents and under blankets, determined to stay until the
As long queues formed in front of the few cash machines that reopened
Wednesday, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood paraded through the city
distributing leaflets and calling for an even bigger show of strength
after prayers on Friday.
Crowds building in the central square for a ninth day of protests have one clear message: "We will not go, he will go."
Garbage is building up on the streets and most shops remain closed and
barricaded off, but internet services have been partially restored.
Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off access to their
customers in a near simultaneous move overnight last Thursday, two days
after anti-Mubarak protests - many coordinated via the internet - began.
The shutdown in Egypt was the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind.
Internet users have celebrated the return of access.
The army has called on protesters to go home.
It has previously issued statements saying it would not use force
against protesters and that it understood the "legitimate demands" of
But the army now says the protesters have delivered their message, their
demands have been heard, and it is time for them to help Egypt return
to normal life.
Opposition supporters, however, say they will ignore the army's request and want Friday's protest to proceed