ABOUT 10,000 East Germans spent Tuesday night waiting around Bonn's Embassy in Prague for a promised convoy of trains to take them to the West. Many of the refugees slept on rubbish-strewn cobblestones in the street in front of the embassy. Women and children packed inside the building to shelter from the cold.
At dawn yesterday there was still no sign of the trains East Berlin had agreed to provide for what could be the last exodus of its citizens for some time.
The first train was originally due to leave Prague Tuesday afternoon. There was no explanation for the delay.
Aid workers estimated the crowd at about 10,000 - almost double the number in and around the embassy Tuesday when East Germany effectively closed its border with Czechoslovakia. It stopped disgruntled citizens from fleeing but agreed that all those already in Czechoslovakia could go to the West.
Groups of refugees huddled around radios to hear Western reports announcing that their departure had been delayed for ``technical reasons,'' although West Germany and Czechoslovakia said a deal had been reached Tuesday with East Germany.
West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who was himself an East German refugee, said yesterday he hoped East Berlin would keep its word and allow thousands of East Germans in Czechoslovakia to go to the West.
In East Berlin, 18 East Germans have taken refuge in the United States Embassy to seek passage to the West, an embassy spokesman said yesterday. Spokesman Jaroslav Verner said 10 adults and eight children entered the embassy Tuesday. The embassy was in touch with East German officials, who already face an exodus of thousands of their citizens through Hungary and the West German Embassies in Prague and Warsaw.
East Germans have sought refuge in embassies in East Berlin before, including the US, British and Danish missions.