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Tour operators fetch 4,000 Dutch from Egypt

THE HAGUE, Jan 31, 2011 – Tour operators and airlines began an operation Monday to evacuate an estimated 4,000 Dutch tourists caught up in the anti-government revolt in Egypt.

"We estimate that there are about 4,000 people that need to be brought back to the Netherlands," spokesman Erik Jan Reuver of the Dutch Calamiteitenfonds (calamity fund), which insures against holiday catastrophes, told AFP.

Of these, about 1,500 were on holidays booked through Thomas Cook and another 1,600 through TUI Nederland, the companies said.

"We already brought back 320 of our customers on two flights that landed at Amsterdam this morning," said spokeswoman Hanita van der Meer of Thomas Cook.

"We expect to have everybody back by the end of the day tomorrow."

Travellers who opted to stay behind had to sign a document stating they did so at their own risk.

Budget airliner Transavia said it would fly eight extra flights on Monday, carrying about 1,500 passengers.

Mother company KLM said it would send bigger planes on its daily scheduled flights from Egypt, one each on Monday and Tuesday, transporting an extra 100 passengers per flight.

According to Reuver, the calamity fund expected to pay out about two million euros (2.7 million dollars) to compensate Dutch travellers for their lost vacation days and tour operators for the evacuation costs.

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The Dutch foreign ministry on Sunday advised against travel to Egypt and told citizens already there to consider leaving the country.

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