Life in Egypt: ATMs empty, stores closed, prisoners in Street, stockpiling of water and food
Now, like many other residents of the Egyptian capital, they're stocking up on bottled water and essential foodstuffs as chaos engulfs this sprawling city of some 18 million.
"We just don't know what is going to happen," said Leila, who along with her husband was pushing a shopping cart loaded with frozen chicken breasts, fava beans, milk and other items at a grocery store in central Cairo. "People are terrified to death."
Everyday life in Cairo has been turned upside down by the largest anti-government protests in decades in Egypt, which began last Tuesday and have surged since.
Schools are closed and businesses boarded up; the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic is now little more than a trickle; and the capital's famed nightlife has been snuffed out by a 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew. For Monday, the military extended the hours, saying curfew would start at 3 p.m.
Even the Internet and text message services have been blocked for days.
The overriding concern for almost everyone in Cairo remains the fear of lawlessness.
"There's no cash in the ATMs, there's something like 5,000 prisoners roaming the streets and there's no security," said May Sadek, a public relations agent who lives in the middle class Dokki neighborhood. There have been jail breaks from at least four prisons around Cairo in recent days.