Wednesday, February 2, 2011

International Coverage

A re-post, from WTOP news in DC.

Virginia woman escapes from Cairo

February 2, 2011 - 12:25pm

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON - There are as many as 90,000 Americans in Egypt, many with stories from the last few days that are both frightening and enlightening.

Among them is 27-year-old Susan Richards-Benson from Burke, Va., who has lived in Egypt for five years while working for a tourism magazine. She was in Cairo when the protests began.

"For many Egyptians, it was a light for them as to how much power they actually have if they come together," Richards-Benson says.

At first, Richards-Benson says there was exhilaration in the country and she didn't feel threatened at all. But that changed Wednesday as protesters clashed in the streets.

"Yesterday it was a feeling that 'OK, things could go back to normal,'" she says, referring to the period after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not run for re-election. "Today there is a greater urgency for people wanting to leave because this really could end up destabilizing the country to a far worse extent than it has already been."

Richards-Benson was staying with a friend in Cairo, near a prison. As things grew more chaotic, the prisoners tried to escape and the Egyptian army showed up to scare them back into their cells.
Richards-Benson says tanks opened fire.

"I'd have to say at that point I was definitely scared because you have no idea what was going to happen," she says.

She describes a chaotic scene at the Cairo airport as she tried to leave, with massive traffic jams and road blocks.

But by Wednesday evening she had managed to get home to where she's been living in the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada.

It is calm there. Many of the tourists are gone.

Richards-Benson, who has had several phone calls with her mother Maree back home in Burke, says she hasn't decided whether to leave Egypt yet.

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