Anger, frus­tra­tion grow; Bri­tons stranded in Egypt

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SHARM EL SHEIKH: Stranded in the Egyp­tian re­sort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Bri­tish tourist Joanna Baker is grow­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated de­spite her lux­u­ri­ous sur­round­ings. Baker and her boyfriend were sched­uled to fly out Fri­day af­ter a week of hol­i­days in the Red Sea town, but in­stead are stuck like thou­sands of fel­low hol­i­day­mak­ers af­ter Bri­tain sus­pended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh over last week’s crash of a Rus­sian air­liner.

Their air­line has put them up at a lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel, but the re­sort’s pri­vate beach and Sharm El-Sheikh’s warm, sunny weather are no longer an at­trac­tion. “We feel like we are grounded,” Baker, 22 said as she played a game of ta­ble ten­nis with her boyfriend. “We had a great time un­til Thurs­day, but now we are frus­trated. The ho­tel is great, the peo­ple are great, but we just don’t know when we are go­ing.” Bri­tain sus­pended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh af­ter the plane car­ry­ing Rus­sian tourists crashed in the Si­nai Penin­sula, killing all 224 peo­ple on board. The Egyp­tian branch of the Is­lamic State group has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for down­ing the plane. Bri­tain, the United States and in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tors sus­pect a bomb was on board, but Egyp­tian of­fi­cials in­sist there is no ev­i­dence yet of an at­tack on the plane. Nearly 17,000 Bri­tons are still stranded in Sharm El-Sheikh, and Lon­don has warned that some may have to stay on longer be­fore they can be flown home. About 2,500 trav­el­ers have been repa­tri­ated to Bri­tain since Fri­day.

‘No­body knows any­thing’

But Baker and her part­ner have so far been un­lucky. “All we do is get up early, pack our bags and just wait,” said her boyfriend, Ar­jun Me­hta, an ac­count­ing stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Sus­sex. “We are tired of pack­ing and un­pack­ing,” Me­hta said, as the cou­ple hoped to catch a flight on Sun­day. “I have to go back to work on Mon­day and he has to go back to the univer­sity. And we don’t know when our lug­gage would reach” home, Baker said.

Un­der se­cu­rity mea­sures im­posed for the repa­tri­a­tions, pas­sen­gers are al­lowed to travel only with hand lug­gage, with check-in bags to be trans­ported later. At var­i­ous ho­tels in the re­sort town, stranded Bri­tons mostly stayed in­doors or on pri­vate beaches, ready to leave for the air­port at short no­tice. Tour op­er­a­tors and air­lines are to re­im­burse them for ex­tended stays, but many tourists blamed their air­lines for “mis­man­ag­ing” the sit­u­a­tion. “The ho­tel and its staff are great, but the air­line has not called us, nor tele­phoned or emailed,” Rob Ash­ford, 27, said as he stepped out of the swim­ming pool at a lux­ury ho­tel. “We have been told not to step out of the ho­tel for se­cu­rity rea­sons.” Ash­ford and his girl­friend were sched­uled to re­turn to Manch­ester on Fri­day, but on Sun­day there was still no in­di­ca­tion when they would take off. “We are liv­ing on a day-to-day ba­sis. No­body knows any­thing. Looks like we may be here for an­other week,” he said. For 49-year-old soft­ware de­vel­oper Paul, who gave only his first name, a few ex­tra days on hol­i­day was not an is­sue. “It’s not that stress­ful, and to be hon­est it’s bet­ter to be stuck in the ho­tel than get blown up,” he said. —AFP

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Tourists pre­pare to board a boat in the Egyp­tian re­sort of Sharm ElSheikh. Bri­tain had sus­pended all flights to and from the re­sort over con­cerns the crashed Rus­sian plane which flew out of Sharm may have been brought down by a bomb. —AFP

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