Cairo is engulfed in chaos, but all Augustana College band students stranded in Egypt are on schedule to get home, just later than they'd planned.
A group of about 90 college students and other Augie adults are among American tourists and professionals caught in Egypt. Students were originally scheduled to fly home today, but those plans were unhinged when airlines cancelled flights out of Cairo. Now Augustana students are rescheduled to leave Egypt within the next few days. The first group will board a plane Sunday morning, and the rest will leave on a flight Tuesday.
Early Friday morning, the government shut down communication. After a few tries, KELOLAND News was able to get through to the Augustana group on a land line. Brad Heegel is the Director of Special Projects for Augustana, and he's coordinating this trip. Heegel says phones are now back up and running, but the internet is still down. He says everyone is together at an airport hotel, and they're all safe.
They were closer to the city center where they experienced the demonstrations first-hand.
"This whole event that you see evolving on television is in about a four square block area, if even that. Once in a while they move and they try to cross a bridge or they try to come back the other way, but it's all happening in the square. You leave that, and there's nothing. There's people out washing their cars. There's kids running around. All these things are happening, and it's just a very complex and very interesting place to be," Heegel said.
Reports are filtering out of Egypt of more violence and intense demonstrations. The death toll has risen to 72 people.
Tonight on KELOLAND Weekend News at 10, hear more from Cairo as Heegel explains what tour members saw: police in riot gear, tanks parked on the street, even the burning of a government building.