Hundreds of American citizens are doing everything they can to get out of Egypt  any way they can today.

The first of two charter planes carrying U.S. citizens out of chaotic Egypt landed Monday in Cyprus, the beginning of what could be a lengthy evacuation effort amid escalating unrest across the country.

At least two flights, carrying 219 Americans between them, were able to take off before Egypt's 3 p.m. curfew went into effect, according to the U.S. State Department.

The first flight, carrying 42 people, landed in Cyprus, according to the State Department. The second, carrying 177 Americans, took off Monday for Athens, Greece, but had not yet landed, the government said.

With at least 2,400 people seeking evacuation as of Monday morning, getting all Americans out of the country could take some time, said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

"People should be prepared for a very long wait," Jacobs said.

The U.S. flights were part of a broadening effort by governments around the world to transport their citizens out of Egypt, where widespread demonstrations against the government have led to clashes between protesters and police, looting and other dangers.

The evacuees include a number of American Christian missionaries, some of whom are from Texas.  Those who have arrived in various European cities are emailing their relatives and friends back home with news that they are safe, but they're worried about others who have not been able to evacuate.