RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Students and professors from Union Presbyterian Seminary touched down in Cairo early Thursday, disembarking from an EgyptAir flight while families waited for updates on the disappearance of Flight MS804.
The group is on a three-week journey, studying international faiths and archeological sites across the Middle East.
"We actually were flying back to Cairo from Luxor airport while the accident occurred," said Midlothian resident Marina Ghaly. "What I did notice was our security guard was more heavily armed than usual."
Ghaly is the only Egyptian in her group of 23. She is on her second trip to the region, and said she has felt at ease with tight security across the country.
"I witness Egypt really trying to protect its citizens and visitors from any violent attacks," Ghaly said. "But throughout Egypt before we enter a museum, hotel, church, or any crowded type areas we are required to go through a metal detector and conveyer belt to be x-rayed."
In Richmond, Union Presbyterian President Brian Blount said the group assured families and friends all was well, as they continued from Cairo to Alexandria.
"We were all very relieved because once we heard the news, we were concerned about their well-being," Blount said in an interview Thursday. "One of our professors has a text message connection with me, so I texted her. And she told me that they had just arrived in Cairo."
Union Presbyterian students are required to embark on at least one travel seminar, in order to expand their religious and global perspectives.
Members wrote on a travel blog they were tired from an early flight, but far from unnerved.
"This trip revealed to me how welcoming the Egyptian citizens are to foreigners and how much they love us," Ghaly said. "Tomorrow is our last day in Egypt and we will not let fear get the final word."
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