Europeans flee Libya violence on evacuation flights

Image caption,
Maltese nationals have already left nearby Libya

A number of European countries are sending planes and ships to evacuate their citizens from strife-torn Libya.

The Netherlands, France, Italy and Greece are dispatching transport planes to get their nationals out. Austria and Portugal have already done so.

The UK is making plans to charter a plane to help stranded Britons and is also moving a warship to wait off the Libyan coast.

But some flights have not yet received the necessary permission to land.

"The situation is very variable and our basic issue is who is in control of what in the country so that our landing and overflight requests are answered," Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Egypt said earlier that the runways at Benghazi airport, eastern Libya, had been destroyed in the anti-government uprising.

'Stuck in desert'

International oil firms, many of them engaged in major energy projects in Libya, are also evacuating expatriate staff.

Royal Dutch Shell said all of its expatriate staff and their dependants had been relocated from Libya.

Italy's Eni, the biggest foreign energy producer in Libya, said it was evacuating some of its expatriate staff. French oil firm Total and construction firm Vinci said they were doing likewise.

Two ferries from Turkey are expected to arrive to Benghazi shortly to evacuate Turkish nationals. The offices of 14 Turkish construction firms were looted during the unrest, a Turkish minister said, though no casualties were reported in those incidents.

Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan told reporters in Ankara that about 4,000 Turkish workers were employed at construction sites in the Benghazi, Darnah and Tobruk areas.

In all, about 25,000 Turks are working for more than 200 Turkish construction firms in Libya, he said. The contracts are worth $27bn (£17bn) in total, he added.

Two Russian planes landed in Tripoli on Tuesday evening and another two are due to touch down shortly.

More than 500 Russians are working in Libya.

Reports in Russian media say that about 150 Russians - employed to build a railway line - are currently stranded in the Libyan desert.

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