As a large group of protestors seized Almaty International Airport for Kazakhstan’s economic crisis and inflation, over 70 Asiana passengers and crewmembers that arrived at the airport on Wednesday (local time) were unable to leave the airport. There is a total of 77 Asiana passengers and crewmembers who arrived at the airport at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, including 29 South Korean passengers and eight South Korean crewmembers. The South Koreans stayed overnight in a waiting area within the airport before moving to a local hotel on Thursday.
According to Reuters, protestors seized the airport around 8 p.m. on Wednesday. As a result, the operation of the airport was suspended with all departing flights canceled and the Asiana passengers that arrived around that time were unable to go through the entry procedure and had to stay in the airport. As protestors broke up on Thursday morning, they were transferred to hotels under the guide of consulate offices and airline employees. “We are reviewing ways to have passengers return to South Korea in consideration of the local airport and fueling situation,” said a member of Asiana.
There are about 940 South Koreans residing in Kazakhstan, about 640 of which live in Almaty, the largest city of the country. The Kazakhstan government declared a state of emergency for two weeks for Almaty from Wednesday to Jan. 19. There will be a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and entry into downtown will not be allowed during the period.
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Almaty warned against visiting areas where protests may take place. “All South Korean citizens have been transferred to hotels or homes from the Almaty airport,” said a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “There has been no report of South Koreans experiencing harm.”
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