LONDON (Reuters) - British tourism firm Thomas Cook collapsed early on Monday after failing to secure funding, leaving tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad.

The British government said that the return of 150 thousand British tourists, which was founded by the company 178 years ago traveled to tourist destinations around the world, will be the largest deportation in the history of the country in peacetime.

The operation began on Monday and officials said delays were inevitable.

The Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook had ceased to operate, its four airlines would be suspended, and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries would lose their jobs, including 9,000 in the UK.

A few months ago, the company blamed the slowdown on bookings, due to uncertainty over the Brexit process, for carrying huge debts.

The company said on Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($ 250 million) to avoid a collapse and had talks with shareholders and creditors on Sunday to avoid bankruptcy.

The company operates around 600 travel agencies in the UK.

The company's chief executive, Peter Vanhauser, said in a statement he read outside the company's headquarters on Monday morning that he deeply regretted the collapse.

Source Sky News

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