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More than 1000 Chinese workers feared stranded in Iraq

world Updated: Jun 18, 2014 18:22 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

More than 1000 Chinese power plant workers could be stranded at the construction site in northern Iraq, cut off from the outside world by the ongoing violence in the country, reports said on Wednesday.

Large parts Iraq's northern areas are witnessing heavy fighting as militant groups move in to take control of the territories, triggering an exodus of people and raising fears of a full-blown sectarian war.

More than 40 Indian citizens have also been abducted during the fighting.

The stranded Chinese workers are employees of the China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) and working on a power plant project, the state-controlled Global Times newspaper said on Wednesday.

It quoted a Baghdad-based Chinese businessman as confirming the plight of the worker, saying the project is located in the Samarra area of Salaheddin province.

It also quoted the wife of one of the stranded workers, from China, as putting up an update from China about the situation of her husband; she said she last heard from her husband on Friday.

“Local translators and police have all run away. The Chinese workers were left on their own with little language capability and limited food and water,” the wife wrote.

China has a sizeable presence in Iraq and is involved in various projects.

“Representatives from CMEC's Baghdad office tried to board a helicopter to the site in a rescue mission Tuesday but were stopped by Iraqi military personnel at Baghdad airport, who cited security concerns, the source said,” the newspaper report said.

Officially, there is yet to be any confirmation about the situation of the 1000 workers in Iraq.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said the Chinese embassy in Baghdad had issued security alerts for its citizens and advised against travelling to the country.

“The alerts also reminded Chinese nationals in Iraq to pay attention to security situation, take precautions and stay away from the conflict areas,” spokesperson, Hua Chunying said at the regular press briefing.

China, she said, had demanded that the Iraqi should strengthen protection around the Chinese embassy, agencies, enterprises and personnel. China will take necessary measures to ensure the safety of its citizens in Iraq as the situation evolves, Hua said.

Hua added that China was closely monitoring the situation in the violence-torn country and hopes the country will restore safety, stability and normal order as soon as possible.