Over 4,600 Chinese evacuated from Libya

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More than 4,600 Chinese nationals had been evacuated from Libya by Thursday morning, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

More than 4,000 left the riot-torn north African state on Thursday on two Greek ocean liners, which were chartered by the Chinese embassy in Greece, said the statement.

The "Hellenic Spirit" and "Olympic Champion" left Benghazi, Libya's eastern port and second-largest city, at 7 a.m. Beijing time (2300 GMT, Wednesday) and were expected to arrive at the port of Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete at about 8 p.m. Beijing time (1200 GMT).

The Chinese embassy in Greece had been preparing for the evacuees' arrival, said the statement.

Chinese companies, including China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, China Shipping (Group) Company and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, actively participated in the evacuation mission, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular briefing Thursday.

Rescue efforts by land were also underway, and the Chinese embassy in Egypt had received more than 400 Chinese who left Libya by road.

Some had flown back to China and 10 of them, who took a Bulgarian government flight, were expected to arrive in Beijing Thursday after a transfer, said the statement.

The first Chinese chartered evacuation flight, with a team of government officials on board, landed at the Libyan capital of Tripoli Thursday morning after a stopover in Athens, it said.

Early Thursday, the second chartered Air China A330-200 aircraft took off from Beijing Capital International Airport for Cairo.

The rescue would be difficult, due to the tense situation and poor telecommunications, said the statement.

However, all relevant departments and overseas Chinese embassies and consulates will maintain close coordination and make all-out efforts to evacuate Chinese nationals from Libya as soon as possible, Ma said.

The majority of Chinese nationals in Libya are employees of Chinese companies with businesses in the country.

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