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China sends plane, ships for Libya evacuation

/ 10:59 AM February 23, 2011

BEIJING – China will send a jet, ships and fishing vessels from nearby waters to violence-wracked Libya on Wednesday to help evacuate more than 30,000 Chinese living there, the government and state media said.

A chartered Air China jet was to leave Beijing on Wednesday for Athens, as the Chinese government awaits permission to land in the north African country, where hundreds have been killed in an uprising against leader Moamer Kadhafi.

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The government has set up an emergency centre headed by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang to coordinate the evacuation of Chinese nationals, as well as those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The State Council, or cabinet, “decided to immediately deploy chartered civil aircraft, COSCO cargo ships in nearby waters, and Chinese fishing vessels carrying needed living and medical supplies”, the ministry said.

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China will also look to hire “nearby large-scale passenger cruise ships and buses” to help in the evacuation effort, it added.

A spokesman for China’s embassy in Libya, Du Minghao, said dozens of Chinese citizens had been injured since the unrest broke out about a week ago. Fifteen of them were hospitalised, the spokesman told the China Daily.

China on Tuesday called on Tripoli to ensure the safety of its nationals, after hundreds of construction workers in eastern Libya were forced to flee attacks on their compound by gun-toting robbers.

“China has made urgent representations to the Libyan side, requiring it to conduct investigations (into the attacks) and bring the perpetrators to justice,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.

About 33,000 Chinese nationals live and work in Libya, mainly in the oil, rail and telecoms sectors, the paper reported, citing embassy staff in Tripoli.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that 83 Chinese had crossed the border into Egypt late Tuesday.

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