Nightly News   |  January 16, 2011

Tourists scramble to escape chaos of Tunisia

As authorities struggle to restore order after a popular uprising that drove the nation’s leader from power, it’s still unclear what the future holds for the North African nation. NBC’s John Ray reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to tunisia where the capital remains a tense place tonight two days after the long-time president was drirch from power. the prime minister says a national unity government will be announced today. in the meantime tunisians and many foreigners are caught in the middle . the u.s. is warning americans to avoid travel to tunisia. john ray is in the capital again for us tonight.

>> reporter: the great scramble to escape tunis, tourists an unwilling witness to revolution in the chaos that followed. embassy officials seemed overwhelmed, many are stranded again tonight. bridget young has been studying arabic here, but now she's trying to get home to san diego .

>> it's chaos.

>> reporter: two days after the popular uprising that ending with the country's leader of 23 years going into exile, tunis is tense. the city's center is under army occupation, and the soldiers seem to share a nation's nervousness. close to one government building we're halted and at gunpoint made to sit. this is a vivid illustration of how tense the city is. we're being held by the army men pointing guns at us and told that we cannot leave. long minutes pass before we're leased. the man next to me tells the soldiers he's an armed police officer, but it's the police most mistrusted. in the suburbs vigilantes mount checkpoints. we come across these men brandishing knives. they say supporting of the ousted president are looting and creating havoc trying to destroy the new beginning. what were symbols of power are ram sacked. this was a seaside villa of a nephew of the president. his possessions are torched or scattered. this is one of the many luxury homes owned by the former president's family. it's now a ruined monument to the corruption and excess. the turmoil has not yet ended nor is it clear what will come next. john ray , nbc