The British Navy has put a flotilla of warships and support vessels on standby to evacuate British tourists from Egypt amid escalating violence in the country.
Egyptian security forces have been leading a brutal crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, killing more than 800 people and injuring hundreds of others since Wednesday.
In reaction to the situation, the British Navy has ordered aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the assault ship Bulwark and a fleet of support ships and frigates to be ready for an emergency rescue mission in Egypt if tensions heighten there.
The fleet was dispatched to Gibraltar earlier this week to take part in a series of military drills in the area.
“The planning team will be looking at all options and making sure we are ready to evacuate British nationals if it comes to that or in a worst-case scenario intervene to rescue UK citizens taken hostage,” Sunday Express quoted a senior Navy source as saying.
“As well as tourists, we have British nationals inside Cairo and other areas and this is now very much a waiting game. It is all about the political decision- making process, based on the intelligence information collated at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). Our role is to be ready,” the source added.
This comes as the British Foreign Office has declared the Red Sear resorts safe for its nationals.
There are an estimated 40,000 Britons at Red Sea resorts while the number is expected to grow as more British tourists visit the area in the coming weeks.
The Foreign Office has warned British citizens to avoid travels to the northeasters areas of Egypt including Luxor, Alexandria and capital Cairo.