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Countries scramble to get citizens out of Libya

By the CNN Wire Staff
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  • Libya
  • Tripoli
  • Air Travel
  • Benghazi
  • Egypt
  • North Africa

(CNN) -- Governments around the world are making a run to get their citizens out of volatile Libya. Here is a country-by-country breakdown:


Two ferry boats carrying more than 3,000 Turks left the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi early Wednesday morning, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Two more ferry boats -- each capable of carrying 1,200 people -- are headed to the North African nation. A third ferry is expected to arrive in Benghazi Thursday.

The boats will carry food and medical supplies for Libyans as demanded by the Turkish prime minister, the ministry said. The ministry added that in addition to the daily scheduled flights by Turkish Airlines to Tripoli, seven more planes are on standby in case it is permitted to fly to Benghazi airport or make additional flights to Tripoli. Since Saturday, Turkey has evacuated 2,100 citizens from Libya, the ministry said.


The British Foreign Office said a charter flight is leaving Gatwick Airport early Wednesday afternoon for Tripoli, and will be carrying supplies of food and water for British nationals at the airport in the Libyan capital. A second flight will leave the U.K. as soon as possible, the Foreign Office said. A third flight will leave Thursday morning if needed. "The safety of British nationals in Libya remains our top priority," Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

A consular team from the British Embassy is already on the ground at Tripoli's airport and is in place to assist British nationals. That team will be reinforced by two specialist consular teams, one of which has already arrived in Libya. The other is on the charter flight from Gatwick, the Foreign Office said.

The British Embassy is in contact with about 300 British nationals in and around Tripoli and was giving them instructions on how to catch the charter flights, the office explained.

Britain said its citizens who don't have "a pressing need to remain in the country should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so." The government was advising Britons who want to leave Libya but can't buy tickets online "to travel to the airport carrying sufficient cash to buy tickets."

British Airways and BMI canceled its flights to and from Tripoli for Wednesday, and was reviewing flights scheduled to depart later in the week.


The foreign ministry in France said that it had sent three planes to Libya to help repatriate French citizens and that its embassy in Tripoli was helping to get citizens to the airport.


Saudi Arabia said it is sending a special passenger plane to Tripoli Wednesday morning.


Syria said it will send two flights Wednesday morning and had sent two others Tuesday to run between Damascus and Tripoli. The Syrian Arab News Agency said the country is ready to launch an "unlimited number of flights if necessary." It added that Syria may also send a ship to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to help evacuate Syrians.


The government in the Netherlands said a military plane and a Dutch frigate would help evacuate its nationals in Libya.


The U.S. State Department was not able to land charter planes in Tripoli to fly out U.S. citizens because Libyan authorities did not give permission for those aircraft to land, a senior administration official said Tuesday. So, the State Department was chartering a ferry to take travelers from central Tripoli's As-shahab port to Valletta, Malta, on Wednesday.

The American embassy in Libya confirmed that the ferry was anchored near the harbor of the As-shahab Port in central Tripoli. The ferry would be leaving at about 1:30 p.m. ET, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. The ferry was delayed coming into Tripoli because of a storm. It can hold 575 people, he said. Those onboard include U.S. citizens, embassy staff, and some third-country nationals. Once the ferry departs, the State Department will say how many are onboard.

Earlier, the department advised that travelers should have all proper travel documents and may bring one suitcase and one carry-on item. Pets are allowed, but must meet stringent EU requirements once they reach Malta. The passengers will be required to reimburse the U.S. government later. U.S. military forces have not been requested to assist in the evacuation of American citizens from Libya, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.


Oil companies, such as Total, BP and OMV, said they would or planned to evacuate people some staff and families.


The U.N. refugee agency is urging neighboring countries not to turn away asylum-seekers and refugees should they flee the upheaval. A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said reports she has received have been worrying. "A journalist has passed information to us from Somalis in Tripoli who say they are being hunted on suspicion of being mercenaries. He says they feel trapped and are frightened to go out, even though there is little or no food at home," Melissa Fleming said.

Meanwhile, about12,000 people have crossed into Egypt from Libya, officials say, in an effort to flee the violence engulfing the North Africa nation. "There is no security over there," said Esat Abubakr, an Egyptian living in Benghazi said Tuesday after he arrived in Sollum, Egypt. He described widespread violence and a climate of fear with no security. He said people drove to the border and then walked across. "Every Egyptian I know is trying to come back to Egypt," he said.

CNN's Tim Lister, Jill Dougherty, Carol Jordan and Adam Levine, and journalists Ian Lee and Yesim Comert contributed to this report

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