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Happy holidays eek

Britons Held At Gunpoint In Egypt Over Flu

6 hours 16 mins ago
SkyNews © Sky News 2009

A British family have told of their holiday hell after being held in quarantine by armed guards amid swine flu panic in Egypt. Skip related content
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Stewart Harbut, his pregnant wife Sasha and their four young children claim they were "pinned down" at Sharm el Sheikh International Hospital while doctors forced them to give swabs.

The family - who spent £6,000 on the First Choice break - had earlier been bundled into the back of van and driven from Sharm el Sheikh airport to the hospital with a full police escort.

When Mr Harbut, an engineer, tried to leave the hospital after being kept in a "filthy" isolation unit overnight, he was confronted by three armed guards who blocked his way.

Tests eventually confirmed that none of the family had the infection.

Speaking from their Red Sea resort hotel after being "released" Mr Harbut, 37, said he had been treated like a drug smuggler.

He said travellers should be warned about the level of panic in Egypt, a country which plans to kill all of its 300,000 pigs, against World Health Organisation advice.

He told Sky News Online he believed the family may have been singled out because they had stamps on their passports from a holiday in Mexico six months previously.

"We landed at the airport and were queueing up with the rest of the holidaymakers, looking forward to the break," Mr Harbut said.

"All of a sudden we were surrounded by armed guards and police - there must have been about 30.

"All the kids were crying, my wife was crying and I could not believe it.

"It felt like something out of a drug-smuggling film. There were guns everywhere and we were bundled into the back of a van.

"The sirens were going and it felt like we were going at 100mph. The children were hysterical."

Mr Harbut said he was promised the family would be out of hospital in a couple of hours but instead they were held in a dusty room with just five beds.

"The kids were pinned down and instruments were put down their throats. The Egyptians were in a complete panic."

By lunchtime Mr Harbut, from Southampton, had had enough and tried to "escape" the isolation unit with Sasha and the four children - Echo, two, Lennon, five, Nikita, seven and Nathaniel, eight.

"There was absolutely no way out - there were large iron gates slammed shut at the front of the hospital and as I walked towards them three armed guards came towards me holding their guns."

The family were only allowed out of the hospital after all of the tests were confirmed as negative, nearly 24 hours after landing in the country.

The family is keen for the Government and First Choice to warn travellers about the panic sweeping Egypt.

"This was absolute hell - we're just hoping that the kids aren't too traumatised," Mr Harbut added.

Violence has erupted in Egypt as farmers tried to prevent the cull of their pigs.

On Saturday, health officials began the slaughter in earnest, moving in on a Cairo slum where rubbish collectors are said to keep around 60,000 pigs.


"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one."
- Winston Churchill, in response.
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