83 Chinese workers evacuated from Libya

83 Chinese workers evacuated from Libya

A group of 83 Chinese workers were evacuated on Wednesday from Libya and were heading home from the northern Egyptian port of Alexandria, the Chinese embassy in Egypt has said , Xinhua reported .

The first group of 43 left for Beijing by commercial flight at 1:25 p.m. (1125 GMT) on Wednesday.

The second group of 40 will fly to Shanghai by another commercial flight at around 5:30 p.m. (1530 GMT), the embassy said. All of the evacuated are workers with China Building Technique Group Co., Ltd., and had been working at a university construction site 500 km away from Benghazi.

Their compound was ransacked on Saturday and Sunday, and they had to rent 10 minibuses to go to the Libyan-Egyptian border. They arrived at the border on Tuesday night, and were received by Chinese embassy staff and transported to Alexandria on Wednesday morning.

"We are so lucky as one of the earliest group evacuated from Libya," Shi Zhifei, one of the workers, told Xinhua.

They worked on the Tubruq University construction project which was funded by the government of Libya, some 170 km away from the Libyan border with Egypt, Shi said.

In the past three days, their construction site has been looted by unidentified armed men for several times, and all the offices and dormitories have been burned down.

"Anyway, we got some help from our local friends and they managed to get some minibuses for us to get to the border," Shi said.

After nearly 11 hours of waiting, they finally crossed the border with the help of Chinese embassy in Cairo, and arrived at Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria on Wednesday morning.

The Chinese embassy in Cairo said on Tuesday that 12 shuttle buses had arrived at the Alsalloum crossing for the evacuation and another 50 buses would be mobilized to the border for more evacuations.

Embassy officials told Xinhua that a large number of Chinese nationals were stranded at the border area on the Libyan side.

Inspired by protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan protesters started to rally in streets last week in a bid to end Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year rule, plunging the North African country into chaos and bloodshed.

"We have heard gunfire all day and all night, all of our equipment including mobile cars, forklifts and carry-scrapers, even our mobile phones have been robbed. However, we are feeling safer now," one of the Chinese workers told Xinhua at the Alexandria airport. "Our Embassy officials treated us very well, they provided us with hot meals and two Arabic translators."

Two foreign engineers who worked for the university project, one from Britain and the other from the Philippines, traveled with the Chinese nationals and left for their countries Wednesday.

"We will try our best to ensure every Chinese national's safety. It is our duty," said one of the officials from the Chinese Consulate in Alexandria, who has been working for the evacuation work for nearly 48 hours consecutively.

Feeling happy that they can be reunited with their family on Thursday, many Chinese workers are concerned about other Chinese nationals' safety in the turbulent country.

"My elder brother works for a construction project near Benghazi, the situation there is much worse. I could not contact him, and I am worrying about him and other Chinese workers," a Chinese construction worker said.

China on Tuesday urged Libya to take substantial measures to protect Chinese nationals in the country and to facilitate their evacuation.

Li Baodong, permanent representative of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, said after a closed-door Security Council meeting on Libya that China is "very concerned" about the current situation in Libya and hopes the country "can restore social stability and political order as soon as possible."

"I urge the Libyan government and all parties concerned to ensure life and property safety of Chinese and other foreign nationals in Libya, and call on all parties to enhance international cooperation and facilitate their evacuation," Li said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts to ensure life and property safety of Chinese nationals in Libya.

Hu and Wen asked relevant authorities to take timely and effective measures to achieve the aim. An emergency center was also set up to organize the evacuation of Chinese in Libya -- people from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

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