China moves out 4,000 workers from Libya

13:20, February 24, 2011      

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China geared up for a massive evacuation of more than 30,000 Chinese workers from Libya, as a first batch of 4,000 have boarded ships leased from Greece who will arrive at Greek island of Crete on Thursday.

China's ambassador to Greece Luo Linquan said that his embassy leased three ships from Greece that would ferry the 30,000 Chinese nationals from the chaos in Libya to safe areas.

Luo said that Greek government has provided assistance and help in arranging the evacuation efforts. The ambassador told the Xinhua News Agency that it has booked up to 6,500 beds in 10 hotels on the Crete Island to accommodate the evacuated. Also, it leased 65 buses to move the people.

It is reported that Chinese workers were in Libya building railways, infrastructure and providing oilfield services.

Beijing has also dispatched chartered evacuation flights to take its people out of Tripoli, capital of Libya.

On Thursday, the first group of 43 Chinese workers have arrived home at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Foreign workers and tourists fled Libya by the thousands Wednesday, with Americans and Turks climbing aboard ships, Europeans boarding flights and North Africans racing to border crossings in crowded vans to avoid the escalating chaos and danger in the country.

Two Turkish ships whisked 3,000 citizens away from the unrest engulfing Libya as Turkey cranked up its largest-ever evacuation, seeking to protect an estimated 25,000 Turkish workers in Libya. More than 200 Turkish companies are involved in construction projects in Libya worth over $15 billion, The Associated Press reported.

The safety of U.S. citizens was a prime concern of Washington DC after failed attempts earlier this week to get them out by plane. But hundreds of Americans safely boarded a 600-passenger ferry at Tripoli's As-shahab port Wednesday for a five-hour journey to Malta, a Mediterranean island.

Over a dozen countries — including Russia, Germany and Ukraine — sent planes in to help their citizens evacuate from Libya.

Tripoli airport was chaotic and overflowing with stranded passengers, said Carlos Dominguez, who flew from the Libyan capital to Madrid. He said people could not buy tickets online and Libyan Airlines was accepting only cash.

Swarms of Egyptians who had lived in Libya were locked outside the airport, he said, "lying on the sidewalks with blankets and children" and all their belongings, the AP report said.

Two Turkish ships left the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi Wednesday escorted by a navy frigate. They were heading to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Marmaris, where a soup kitchen and a field hospital were set up and buses were brought in to transfer evacuees. Turkey has now evacuated over 5,300 citizens from Libya.

Migrants also poured across Libya's land borders with Egypt and Tunisia on Wednesday, with vans piled high with luggage and furniture lining up at the Salloum border crossing with Egypt.

Jemini Pandya, a spokeswoman for the U.N. migration agency, said thousands of migrants were fleeing Libya.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said about 170 British oil workers and colleagues from other nations were stranded in desert camps and unable to reach the evacuation flights.

"These camps are remote, they're isolated, they are scattered over a large distance, they're dependent for food or water on supplies from Libyan cities that have been severely disrupted by the violence and unrest," he said. "They are in a perilous and frightening situation."

Britain was sending two Boeing 757s to Tripoli to evacuate U.K. nationals, and will send a third Thursday if necessary. The royal navy frigate HMS Cumberland was arriving in international waters off Libya on Wednesday night, ready to assist evacuations if the violence escalates, Hague said.

People's Daily Online


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