NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – It has been a harrowing time for the family of a Long Island student studying abroad in Egypt.
Kyleen Burke, a 20-year-old from Port Jefferson, has been in Egypt with 34 other Gordon College students for a Middle Eastern studies program. After being unable to speak with his daughter for four days, Jim Burke told 1010 WINS he was finally able to get in touch with her.
Burke said his daughter tried to reassure her family and even described the experience of witnessing the protests as “cool.”
Since the start of the crisis, Burke said his daughter was fine and kept out of the way of the protesters.
“She’s got a few whiffs of the tear gas and she heard…the police had set off fireworks. She thinks firecrackers [were set] to enforce the curfew, but she feels very safe,” Burke said.
She and the other students were waiting for the curfew to be lifted so they could get to a retreat house in Istanbul, Turkey.
Burke said communicating with his daughter has been difficult since the government shut down the Internet this past week. The family had been using Skype to communicate with Kyleen, but the Internet interruption rendered them unable to reach her for some time.
Burke said Kyleen spent Saturday night at the Cairo rail road station under military guard, but has not felt like she was in danger.
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“The people that she’s been interacting with have been wonderful and almost apologetic that they’ve put them in this situation,” he said.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Sunday it was arranging to begin flying Americans out of Egypt on Monday.
The announcement came hours after the embassy advised Americans in Egypt to consider leaving as soon as possible. The statement said the State Department is making arrangements to provide those who want to leave with flights to “safehaven locations in Europe.”
Burke added the family has been in close contact with Rep. Peter King’s office. King along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were able to help Kyleen get in touch with her family.
“Secretary Clinton’s staff has personally called Kyleen to check with her and reported back to the family,” King told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.