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World State Department scrambling to bring 13,000 stranded Americans home amid coronavirus pandemic

21:25  23 march  2020
21:25  23 march  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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WASHINGTON – The State Department says more than 13,000 Americans stranded abroad have contacted the agency for help getting home amid the coronavirus outbreak, a senior official told reporters Monday.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: International travel chaos: Travelers being repatriated from Morocco; disembarking troubles in Johannesburg © Provided by USA TODAY International travel chaos: Travelers being repatriated from Morocco; disembarking troubles in Johannesburg

Officials are scrambling to charter flights to dozens of countries.

The Trump administration has already brought about 5,000 Americans home from 17 countries, and officials are hoping to fly another 1,600 U.S. citizens back this week from countries across the globe, said the senior State Department official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.

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“We’re looking at 16 or so flights in the next five days and about 1,600 passengers identified for those flights, with room for more,” said this official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.  

“It has been a lot of hard work, and it is going to be a lot of hard work going forward,” this person said. “We are devoting all of our resources to this.”

The State Department has set up a call center to help marooned Americans, but officials say the best way to get on the agency’s radar is to register online with the agency’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, called STEP.

 “The only way to find someone is if they are registering with STEP. That’s how we build the manifests for these flights.”

The call center phone number is 202-501-4444 for those overseas and 888-407-4747 for those calling within the U.S. on behalf of stranded family or friends.

Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: State Department scrambling to bring 13,000 stranded Americans home amid coronavirus pandemic

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