2 Ferries Wait To Leave Libya Amid Rough Seas

Two ferries carrying foreigners trying to leave strife-torn Libya were waiting to leave Tripoli Sunday, delayed by officialdom and rough seas, while a Russian-chartered ferry arrived at a port further east.

Henri Saliba, managing director of Virtu Ferries, said the San Gwann is accepting anyone who wants to board and is almost at capacity with more than 400 passengers. The Maria Dolores has been chartered by a private company and has some 90 passengers on board.

They started taking passengers on Saturday evening but Libyan police only let people board in a trickle. The weather conditions on Sunday morning prevented departure. Saliba said the ferries hope to leave Tripoli on Sunday evening and arrive in Valletta, Malta, on Monday morning.

He said the port in Tripoli is currently safe and calm.

Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency, citing Russia's Emergencies Ministry, reported that the ferry St. Stephan had docked in the Libyan port of Ras Lanuf, where it is to take aboard 1,126 evacuees, among them 124 Russians.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone with Musa Kousa, secretary of Libya's General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, who "gave assurances that the Libyan authorities would continue rendering all necessary assistance to completing the evacuation of Russian citizens from Libya and provide security for Russian diplomats in Tripoli."

ITAR-Tass, citing the Ukrainian foreign ministry, said a plane carrying 185 evacuees, 122 of them Ukrainian, landed Sunday at Boryspil Airport in Kiev.

In a bold and secret rescue mission on Saturday, British military planes entered Libyan air space and picked up oil workers and others from desert locations. The frigate HMS Cumberland is also returning to the Libyan port of Benghazi to pick up people waiting there.

More than 2,800 Chinese workers landed in Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete aboard a Greek ship on Saturday. Further to the west, another 2,200 Chinese arrived in Valletta after a long journey from the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi. Hours earlier, in the dark of night, a U.S-chartered ferry dropped off over 300 passengers in Valletta who spent three days waiting to leave Libya's chaotic capital.

The sheer numbers of foreigners leaving Libya as Moammar Gadhafi's regime attacks anti-government protesters has been staggering. As of Saturday, at least 16,000 Chinese, 15,000 Turks and 1,400 Italians had been evacuated, most working in the construction and oil industries.

In addition, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that some 22,000 people have fled across the Libyan border to Tunisia and another 15,000 crossed the border into Egypt.

This program aired on February 27, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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