NEW: U.S. State Department says it hopes to evacuate 900 Americans on MondayFirst flight of Americans evacuated from Egypt landed in Cyprus Monday afternoonCanada, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, India and Israel have also evacuated citizensFollow live blogging on “This Just In” and the latest tweets from CNN correspondents from the protests. Send your video, images to CNN iReport.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — The first of two charter planes carrying U.S. citizens out of chaotic Egypt landed Monday in Cyprus, the beginning of what is likely to be a lengthy evacuation effort amid escalating unrest across the country.

The U.S. State Department told Americans on Monday that they should bring food, water and other necessities — including patience — to the airport if they hope to catch a flight.

“People should be prepared for a very long wait,” said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

The U.S. flights were part of a broadening effort by governments around the world to transport their citizens out of Egypt, where widespread demonstrations against the government have led to clashes between protesters and police, looting, and other dangers.

At least 220 Americans had been evacuated from Egypt as of Monday evening, according to the State Department. Another 175 were boarding a flight to Athens, Greece, Monday evening, according to the agency.

The first plane out was a Cyprus-bound flight with 42 people aboard, the government said. It landed Monday afternoon.

Despite earlier reports that flights would be subject to Egypt’s 3 p.m. curfew, the State Department said flights would depart around the clock. U.S. officials hoped to evacuate 900 people on Monday.

About 52,000 Americans are believed to be in Egypt. Of those, more than 2,400 have asked to be evacuated, Jacobs said. But she expected those numbers would rise as the unrest continues.

The State Department said Americans seeking flights out of the country should make their way to Cairo International Airport’s HAJ Terminal 4, where U.S. government officials will arrange charter travel out of the country.

The flights will head to Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, according to the State Department.

Stefanos Stefanou, a spokesman for the Cyprus government, said shortly after the first U.S. flight landed at 2:30 p.m. that the country was ready to help any country trying to get its citizens out of Egypt.

Those seeking evacuation will be asked to sign documents promising they will reimburse the government for the flights, the State Department said.

Exact costs hadn’t been determined, but a State Department official said the cost should be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the evacuation points. Citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel from there, according to the government.

Although Jacobs said the U.S. government has not learned of any Americans being targeted or hurt in the protests, she said U.S. citizens should nevertheless limit their movements and avoid protests if they don’t plan on leaving the country.

Other countries were taking steps to evacuate their citizens, as well.

Canada recommended its 6,000 citizens in Egypt leave and expected to begin flying them out aboard charter flights on Monday.

India sent a flight Monday, according to that country’s government.

Israel’s EL AL sent two airplanes to retrieve that nation’s citizens, returning on Monday, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Thai Airways said Monday that it was preparing a special flight to Cairo to bring stranded Thais home at the request of the country’s government.

Australia said it will provide a flight on Wednesday.

Mexico’s government also advised its citizens to leave the country.

Russian officials said they have made plans for an evacuation, but aren’t yet moving to implement them, state-run Itar-Tass said, citing the head of the consular department of the Russian embassy in Egypt, Shamil Utoyev.

CNN’s Elise Labott, Shira Medding, Paula Newton and Paul Malaos contributed to this report.


Leave a Reply