Turkey Mounts Biggest Evacuation in Its History to Rescue 5,000 From Libya
Turkey has begun the biggest evacuation effort in the country’s history as it transports citizens from Libya amid escalating unrest in which one Turkish citizen has died, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
Turkey evacuated 5,099 people in the last 72 hours, using only the airport in Tripoli, the capital, because the rest of Libya’s airports are closed, Davutoglu said in a televised press conference in Ankara today. Libya rejected Turkish requests for extra evacuation flights, he said. Turkey activated a “Plan B” to run ferries between Turkey and Libya to evacuate some of the 25,000 Turks working in the country, he said.
The circumstances of the Turkish citizen’s death at a construction site near Tripoli are unclear, Davutoglu said. He called on Turks in Libya to remain calm. A “crisis table” at the Foreign Ministry is working 24 hours a day, he said.
The Libyan government’s crackdown on demonstrations has left almost 300 dead, according to Human Rights Watch, and helped drive oil prices to a 2 1/2-year high. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said late yesterday that he would fight the rebellion until his “last drop of blood.”
Ten other countries have requested Turkish assistance in evacuating their citizens from Libya, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said at a conference in Istanbul, without naming them. Turkish ships will also be carrying food and medicine to Libya, Davutoglu said.
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