Frantic operations to evacuate foreigners from the widening chaos in Libya continued Friday, and European officials were already looking toward the next challenge: coping with what could be a huge influx of refugees from across the Mediterranean, The New York Times reports.
More than 10,000 people crowded into Tripoli’s main airport on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Amateur video posted by the British newspaper The Independent showed desperate travelers filling the trash-strewn terminal and flowing out the doors into the roads.
The scramble by foreigners to leave the country began several days ago, but the number of commercial flights could not keep up with demand. Many countries have been mobilizing military and chartered ships and planes.
Some government-led evacuations were able to proceed Thursday, with two Greek ferries carrying about 4,500 Chinese workers departing from the eastern city of Benghazi. The United States Embassy said on its Web site that it was chartering a flight from Tripoli for Friday.
Other efforts to remove American citizens have been frustrated, first when a chartered plane was denied permission to land and then when rough seas kept a chartered ferry from departing for Malta for a third straight day on Friday.
Those on the ferry, which has been secured, were being given food and water, said Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman. There were 285 passengers on board, including 167 Americans. The State Department said 40 members of the United States Embassy staff were on the vessel, which holds about 600 people.
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