China forging ahead with all-out Libya evacuation operation

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The second passenger plane chartered by the Chinese government in an all-out effort to evacuate its citizens from unrest-wracked Libya landedĀ in BeijingĀ on Friday morning.

The 227 passengers aboard the flight from Cairo added to the 224 evacuees who arrived at Beijing from the Libyan capital of Tripoli hours earlier in the first chartered aircraft.

Their homecoming came a day after 83 others returned to Beijing and Shanghai from the northern Egyptian port of Alexandria in two commercial flights.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao said early Friday morning that some 12,000 Chinese nationals had been pulled out of Libya in the ongoing large-scale evacuation operation.

Besides those already back in China, a majority of other fleeing Chinese were evacuated to Egypt, Tunisia, Greece and Malta by land and sea with the assistance of Chinese embassies in these countries, and are expected to return to China in batches.

In Egypt, the Chinese embassy was helping over 100 other evacuated Chinese arrange their flights back home. The diplomatic mission said that it had made comprehensive preparations to receive more compatriots from neighboring Libya.

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 Chinese nationals arrived in Tunisia, also bordering Libya, on Thursday and were warmly greeted and well accommodated by Chinese diplomats stationed there. Another 2,000 were expected to follow later in the day.

On the same day, two Greek ocean liners chartered by the Chinese embassy in Greece reached the Greek island of Crete, where Chinese Ambassador Luo Linquan and Crete Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis greeted the over 4,100 Chinese nationals on board.

More are expected to arrive in the coming days at this Mediterranean island, which Arnaoutakis said is fully prepared for reception. Then the evacuees will take chartered flights back to China.

Also across the Mediterranean Sea, some 2,100 Chinese nationals are expected to arrive at Malta on Friday aboard a ship chartered by the Chinese embassy in Malta.

The embassy said that it had chartered for this operation another two liners, which were standing by at Greek and Italian ports.


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