The chaos in Egypt trapped at least seven Minnesota-bound Egyptian students this week as they tried to leave their country to attend college.
The students, who are headed to Winona State University and the University of St. Thomas, reported that their flights out of Cairo were unexpectedly delayed, college officials confirmed. But by Friday afternoon, at least four were said to be en route to Amsterdam, the first stopover on their way to Minnesota.
One 19-year-old Egyptian woman, heading for Winona State, wrote via Facebook: "Dear friends, pray for me to arrive safely and make it to MN."
In all, 11 Egyptian students are slated to attend Winona State this fall, and six were still en route as of Friday, said Kemale Pinar, director of international services. Most students are arriving next week, ahead of the start of classes on Aug. 26.
Three Egyptian students arrived only Wednesday night, Pinar said. They had left Cairo before the massive crackdown that killed hundreds of protesters and dozens of security forces earlier that day.
St. Thomas is expecting one Egyptian student, a female freshman, this fall, said Jim Winterer, a spokesman for the St. Paul university.
"She was scheduled to arrive here this coming Monday, but we have learned that her flight has been delayed," he said. "There's no more information."
Nabih Eltair, an Egyptian student at Winona, hasn't been home since January, but says he's been closely following reports of the violent clashes.
"Today is way better than Wednesday," he said Friday. He's been exchanging Facebook messages with relatives in his hometown of Mansura, two hours from Cairo. And while his family appears safe, he said, the situation is still "extremely dangerous." He blames the Muslim Brotherhood, rather than the government, for provoking the bloodshed. "The army and police are trying to control and handle the situation," he said.