Over 3,000 Chinese evacuees ready for home from Libya's Benghazi

11:56, February 26, 2011      

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The Chinese nationals wait for aboarding the vessel to evacuate from Libya in Benghazi, Libya, Feb. 25, 2011. (Xinhua/Yu Yang)

Over 3,000 Chinese nationals working in Libya have boarded two chartered Greek vessels by Friday evening at Benghazi port, in the east of unrest-hit Libya.

The evacuees were from China Communication Constructions Engineering Company, and several other Chinese firms.

Two Greek RORO vessels, "Hellenic Spirit" and "Olympic Champion," chartered by the Chinese embassy in Athens, left the Greek island of Crete on Thursday evening, and docked at Benghazi port Friday afternoon.

The Chinese evacuees, mostly construction workers tasked at a housing project some 70 km away from the port, were waiting ashore in a long line stretching several kilometers when the vessels approached.

Xu Zhiqiang, a senior manager of the construction project, said transportation began early in the morning, and all available vehicles were mobilized, including buses, trucks and even carts, to move the stranded.

Many of the workers were stopped and threatened en route by armed personnel who forcibly took away their vehicles and belongings.

"The situation in the surroundings of the port is still very dangerous, and travelling here takes risks," Xu said. "But luckily everyone in the company made it here, no one was left. It is so good to see rescuers sent by homeland."

The evacuees were given food and water once aboard the ships, and rooms were sufficient. For many, it is the first time in weeks to sit down in relaxation to enjoy a hot meal.

Many of them were craved to reunite with their families back home.

Chen Xiaxing, a Chinese diplomat to Athens and is currently in charge of the "Hellenic Spirit," estimated that around 1,890 Chinese workers had boarded the vessel, while the "Olympic Champion" accommodated some 1,500 others.

Chen's assistant, Zhang Chenyu, a veteran fleet operator from China Shipping Group, told Xinhua that the boarding process ran much smoother than the previous one.

On Feb. 24, the two vessels successfully evacuated the first group of some 4,000 Chinese nationals to the city of Heraklion in Greece's Crete Island. Another vessel, carrying around 3,900 Chinese evacuees, already left Benghazi Friday morning.

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