China charters ship to evacuate its nationals from strife-torn Libya

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 1:59am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 1:59am


A merchant vessel has been chartered by the Chinese government to evacuate "hundreds" of its citizens from Libya, a Greek government official said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that more than 100 Chinese nationals were headed to Tunisia by land, while 78 nationals had been taken to Greece.

According to the Greek defence ministry, Athens is sending a naval frigate to pick up its embassy staff members as well as about 70 Greeks and dozens of others from China, Cyprus, Britain and Malta after their governments requested help.

The evacuations have been triggered by clashes between heavily armed rival militias in Libya, resulting in the worst violence since the civil war three years ago. Weeks of fighting in Tripoli has killed nearly 100 people and wounded 400 others, and left much of the city's main airport destroyed.

Many countries have suspended operations at their embassies, including Greece and the United States, and advised their citizens to leave the country.

The Greek frigate, Salamis, was due to dock outside Tripoli later yesterday.

"We're getting new requests for assistance all the time," the Greek official said.

During the 2011 civil war, Greece assisted China and other countries in the Libya evacuation, basing many of its operations from the Mediterranean island of Crete, which is less than 300km from the Libyan coast and has two international airports.