Chinese evacuees from Libya arrive in Greece

22:10, February 24, 2011      

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The vessel carrying Chinese nationals evacuated from Libya approaches the port of Heraklion, in the southern Greek island of Crete, Feb. 24, 2011. More than 4,100 Chinese nationals on two Greek merchant vessels chartered by the Chinese government arrived here Thursday from Libya's Benghazi. (Xinhua/Marios Lolosf)

Two Greek ferries braved rough seas Thursday to evacuate more than 4,100 Chinese nationals from violence-wracked Libya and safely carry them to the Mediterranean island of Crete.

The evacuees, on two vessels chartered by the Chinese government, arrived from Libya's eastern port of Benghazi and in Crete were to board specially chartered flights back home.

Greece, which is helping China with one of its largest foreign evacuations in recent times, plans to bring out up to 15,000 Chinese nationals from the embattled North African nation.

Crete Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis met Luo Linquan, the Chinese ambassador to Greece, earlier Thursday to express support for the Chinese government's rescue operation.

"In these difficult hours, Crete is most ready to receive Chinese nationals from Libya," Arnaoutakis said, "The operation under way shows by actions the strong bilateral ties, friendship and strategic partnership between the two peoples."

Luo said China appreciates Greece's quick mobilization as tens of thousands of foreigners sought to flee the turmoil and fierce fighting in Libya.

"This humanitarian rescue operation will certainly enhance bilateral ties," Luo said.

Thursday was not the first time that Greece has assisted China in evacuating nationals from troubled areas. In 1997, when unrest erupted in Albania, a Greek warship carried Chinese nationals from Albania to neighboring Greece.

Source: Xinhua

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