Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vessels with Chinese evacuees from Libya aboard due in Greece's Crete Thursday afternoon

As a backgrounder -- China has a huge investment in Greece's ports. (here)
Vessels with Chinese evacuees from Libya aboard due in Greece's Crete Thursday afternoon 2011-02-24 10:05:23 FeedbackPrintRSS

HERAKLION, Greece, Feb. 24 (Xinhua)-- The first two Greek merchant vessels, which facilitate the evacuation of Chinese nationals from troubled Libya, are expected to arrive at the port of Heraklion, in the southern Greek island of Crete, Thursday afternoon, according to the Chinese embassy in Athens.

The two ships, "Hellenic Spirit" and "Olympic Champion," which have been chartered by the Chinese government to assist the rescue operation of Chinese citizens stranded in Libya, left the western Greek port of Patra Tuesday.

They reached the port of Benghazi in northern Libya at 10 a.m. local time and after a marathon of deliberations to receive permission by local authorities, they docked at the port around 5 p.m. local time.

According to the latest information by Chinese embassy officials, the first Chinese nationals to be transferred to safety to Crete started boarding at 7.10 p.m. local time and the process was completed around 11.45 p.m. local time.

There are more than 2,000 Chinese on board each of the two ships sailing to Greece and if everything runs smoothly, they are due to arrive at the port of Heraklion around 2 p.m. local time Thursday.

In order to avoid any injuries during the evacuation of so many people, Chinese diplomats aboard the two ships contacted Chinese companies in Libya and arranged that the evacuees will be organized into groups of 50 people which will be moving together all the time until they return to China.

Since some Chinese nationals in Libya have lost or been robbed of their identity cards and other documents, this way the operation will be more controlled.

Working closely with Greek authorities to facilitate the rescue mission, Chinese officials have done a lot of preparations so that 6,500 beds will be available in 10 hotels in Heraklion Thursday to accommodate the Chinese nationals arriving from Libya.

Chinese officials have prepared medicine and 55 buses to move passengers around until they will fly to China aboard chartered flights by Air China.

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