02 February 2011

Egypt crisis: AirAsia, MAS flying in to help evacuate M'sian students

KOTA KINABALU: AirAsia has sent an Airbus A320 aircraft to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to help evacuate Malaysian students in Egypt.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the AirAsia aircraft, which departed from Kuala Lumpur for Jeddah at 2pm Wednesday, could accommodate 249 passengers.

He said AirAsia would be making four trips from Jeddah daily to bring home students evacuated from Cairo to Jeddah by RMAF aircraft.

Speaking at a press conference here, he advised parents with children in Egypt not to worry as the Government was doing its best to protect Malaysians there.

"The Government is also working closely with the Indonesian and Bruneian governments in the evacuation process.

"For example, Garuda is already at Cairo airport and if they have extra seats, they could take in the Malaysians stranded at the airport," he added.

There are 11,000 Malaysian students in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) managing director and chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin said a MAS aircraft would leave for Cairo Thursday morning.

"We are working out with our own engineers to accommodate as many passengers (as possible) in the flight," he said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the operation to evacuate Malaysian students stranded in Egypt was expected to take four days.

He said 30 personnel from the Armed Forces and a further 30 from other government agencies including Wisma Putra would be involved in the evacuation operation.

Zahid also called on non-governmental organisations to assist the Government in the evacuation operation.

He also said the Saudi Arabian government has issued temporary visas for the students leaving for Jeddah.

"They will be placed at the Tabung Haji complex in Jeddah as a temporary measure," he added.

Bernama reported that the Putera 1Malaysia Club will send 30 tonnes of foodstuff to Egypt to help Malaysians affected by the anti-government protests in the country.

Its president Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said they would go with the AirAsia plane provided by the low-cost carrier.

Abdul Azeez said their team would include 30 volunteers, among them doctors, to help students and others in the troubled country.

"We will provide food and help in evacuation mission. Parents should not be worried as the Government is doing its best to help their children there," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian are staging demonstrations across major Egyptians cities in a bid to force President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule, plunging the country into its worst crisis in recent times.

Egypt crisis: First evacuation of M'sian students to start by Thursday

PETALING JAYA: The first evacuation of Malaysian students from Cairo to Saudi Arabia will begin by Thursday at the latest.
The Government is despatching two C130 RMAF aircraft Wednesday to Cairo and fly the students to Jeddah.
National Security Council secretary Datuk Thajuddeen Abdul Wahab, who is in Egypt to coordinate the evacuation, said that he was informed the RMAF aircraft would leave Kuala Lumpur at noon Wednesday.
“We are waiting for the green light from the Saudi government to issue temporary visas to our students. We hope everything can be done by today.
“A C130 can accommodate at least 150 passengers, so we are hoping to evacuate some 300 by early tomorrow,” he told The Star.

Thajuddeen also said Malaysian officials in Cairo had managed to facilitate the return of 150 students via commercial flights on Tuesday night.
“They should arrive in Kuala Lumpur anytime now.”
He said the Malaysian Embassy had sent nasi goreng and mineral water to students stranded at the Cairo airport.
"The RMAF aircraft will also be taking foodstuff, including rice, curry powder, cooking oil, milk formula and dried chillies to Cairo," he added.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that the two RMAF C130 aircraft would be leaving for Cairo on Wednesday afternoon.
He also said that the Royal Malaysian Navy’s auxiliary ship, Bunga Mas 5, would arrive at the port of Adabiyah on Saturday to help in the evacuation of Malaysian students.
“The ship can accommodate about 500 passengers. The students will be taken to Jeddah,” he added.
Adabiyah is about a two hours’ drive from Cairo.
Parents can call the following numbers for inquiries on the Malaysian students in Cairo:
Foreign Ministry Operations Room - Tel: 03-88892746, 03-88874570, 019-2784566, 03-88874770, 03-88892830.
Operations Room of the Malaysian Embassy in Cairo - Tel: 00 202 3760 7375.