1,000 Americans to be evacuated from Lebanon
1,000 Americans wanting to leave Lebanon are expected to be evacuated by a ship to Cyprus on Wednesday.india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 09:56 IST
Americans wanting to leave Lebanon were expected to begin boarding a luxury cruise ship at first light on Wednesday, but at sunrise they had not begun boarding the vessel. The process was expected to take several hours. First, the embassy notifies those taking the boat and designates an assembly point and time.
It was not known whether the calls had been made, and embassy officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Once the evacuees gather at the assembly point, their papers must be checked. Then they are taken in buses to the port to board the ship.
On Tuesday, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet said the ship would begin boarding evacuees at dawn.
"We're trying to move quickly, trying to move large numbers of people as fast as we can," said Vice Adm Patrick Walsh, the top US naval officer in the Mideast. US Ambassador Jeffrey D Feltman told The Associated Press more than 1,000 Americans would leave on Wednesday.
The large-scale evacuation of US nationals to Cyprus on board the Orient Queen, the luxury ship, was to begin amid fierce criticism over delays that officials said were caused by security concerns and logistics.
An Israeli warship was damaged and four soldiers killed in an exchange of fire with Hezbollah that also sank an Egyptian merchant vessel. Israel has imposed a blockade on Lebanon's shoreline. Europeans have been evacuated in the thousands since their governments began moving them out in the first days of the hostilities.
The number of Americans evacuated rose to several hundreds on Tuesday when 320 left by helicopter and ship. Before that, only dozens had departed, mainly by helicopter flights that began on Sunday.