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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:40, July 19, 2006
Thousands of foreigners flee Lebanon
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Governments around the world have been scrambling to evacuate their nationals from Lebanon as the intense Israeli offensive in the country continued yesterday.

A total of 82 Chinese citizens have been evacuated from Lebanon to Syria by yesterday and most are on their way back to China, Chinese Foreign Ministry said yesterday evening. The evacuees included seven people from Hong Kong, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Some embassy officials have also been evacuated, but others will stay to pay close attention to the safety of Chinese citizens who remain in Lebanon, the statement said.

The United States ordered five warships to head for Lebanon yesterday in its first major evacuation of Americans. The US navy said three amphibious ships, a helicopter carrier and a dock landing ship would be involved.

A cruise ship commissioned by the United States, that can carry up to 1,000 people, left Cyprus earlier yesterday and headed to the Lebanese coast. Some of the 8,000 Americans registered as living in Lebanon were expected to board the vessel later in the day, a diplomatic source in Nicosia said.

Britain said two aircraft carriers were among six of its ships in the region ready to start rescuing its citizens from the violence.

Other European nations mustered boats and planes to reach their nationals stranded by the bombing of Beirut airport and the destruction of roads and bridges.

Countries from as far away as Chile were making arrangements to reach their citizens.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said a fleet of ships was in the region and ready to take up position. British ministers said around 12,000 British nationals and another 10,000 of dual nationality would be evacuated.

France said it had transported 800 of its citizens by boat to Larnaca in Cyprus and would return to collect some of the 6,000 other French nationals.

A ferry sent by Sweden was expected to pick up around 1,500 this morning. A Greek navy frigate arrived in Larnaca port yesterday, carrying around 400 Europeans from Beirut.

Many countries were sending planes to Damascus to collect some of the thousands arriving there by car. A Spanish airforce Boeing 707 flew 113 people out of the Syrian capital and more than 152 were being transported from Amman, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said.

Russia sent Emergencies Ministry aircraft to pick up its evacuees and nationals from neighbouring former Soviet states.

Source: China Daily

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