Terror fears leave at least 179 Irish stranded in Egypt
AT LEAST 179 Irish people have been left stranded in Egypt amid terrorism fears.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said scores of passport holders had registered with its consular division but the official figure may not be a true reflection of all Irish citizens in the country.
Diplomats said they were constantly reviewing travel advice for Egypt after all Irish and UK flights to and from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were suspended amid concerns that the Russian plane that crashed in the Sinai region last weekend was brought down by an "explosive device".
A foreign affairs spokesman urged all Irish people in the country to register their details on dfa.ie/travel/citizens-registration.
"As registration is not compulsory, this figure does not reflect the total number of Irish citizens living in or visiting Egypt," the spokesman said.
"We are closely monitoring the situation in Egypt though our embassy in Cairo."
The numbers of Irish in Egypt were revealed after the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) directed Irish airlines not to fly to the area and diplomats updated travel advice for the region.
The last chartered flights to Red Sea resorts and other Egyptian tourist spots left Ireland in mid-October and are understood to have returned, while the next planned service for holidaymakers is on Christmas Eve.
No scheduled flights operate out of Dublin to Cairo or other Egytian destinations at this time of year, aviation chiefs said.
The IAA order bans Irish operators from travelling to and from the Sinai Peninsula or Sharm el-Sheikh.
Tourists going to the popular Red Sea destination are advised to exercise "a high degree of caution" and have been warned not to leave the resort.
"Irish citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to a heightened threat of terrorist incidents, including targeted attacks against foreigners, and a continuing threat of civil unrest," the DFA said.
It said exceptions to the heightened travel advice included destinations on the Red Sea coast such as Hurghada and others outside Sinai but that tourists should not leave resorts.
Elsewhere, people travelling to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel and cruising between those destinations are advised to exercise caution and arrive and depart by air, the DFA said.
The Irish Travel Agents Association urged holidaymakers to follow the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Pat Dawson, chief executive, said: "We continue to monitor the situation in Egypt in close partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs. There are currently no charters to Sharm el-Sheikh."