Foreign and Military Affairs

Emotional evacuees cheer arrival of Chinese ship

Updated: 2011-03-02 06:54

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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Mediterranean Sea - Whistling, cheering, waving and shouting, crowds of Chinese evacuees from Libya on the deck of the Greek ship Venizelos showed their national pride in every possible way as the Chinese frigate Xuzhou approached.

The huge Greek vessel Venizelos, containing 2,142 Chinese evacuees from the strife-torn North African country, and the frigate whistled to each other for several minutes.

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"We are very excited, and this is my first time to see a Chinese frigate," Dimitrios Kyriakopoolos, the second officer of the Greek ship, told China Daily. "I am quite emotional at this special time."

Kyriakopoolos was on duty on Monday night when his ship left the Libyan port of Misurata, and Tuesday was his rest day. But he sprang out of bed after hearing the Chinese frigate was approaching. He joined the Chinese, cheering and waving to a Chinese helicopter as it flew over.

"We saluted the Chinese frigate in the same way we would a Greek warship," said Kyriakopoolos.

After the ship and frigate greeted each other, they sailed side by side for an hour and a half.

The frigate Xuzhou had been on an anti-piracy escort mission in the Gulf of Aden before joining the evacuation effort in the waters off Libya.

Wei Jianhua, captain of the Chinese frigate, sent his warm greetings by radio, thanking the Greek crew for their help and support in the evacuation of Chinese from strife-torn Libya.

To his compatriots on board the Greek ship, Wei said: "The strong and prosperous motherland is together with you when you are in hardship."

On hearing this, a group of evacuees unfurled a Chinese flag and waved to the frigate.

"Yes, we feel that we are from a big family and when we meet trouble overseas, we can get help any time," said Cui Qinghua.

Cui, from Hubei province, was a construction worker along with 300 colleagues in central Libya. They began preparing for evacuation when Libya started to descend into chaos on Feb 16, but they were then robbed and unable to leave.

However, Chinese diplomats tried every means to evacuate them. "Finally, they succeeded after several rounds of negotiations with locals, and now here we are," said Cui.

Cui and his fellow evacuees are now on their way to the Greek island of Crete. More than two-thirds of the Chinese citizens in Libya have already been moved to safety, and all Chinese have already been evacuated from the Libyan port city of Misurata.

This is the second time the Greek ship has evacuated Chinese people from Libya. The Chinese government has sent seven chartered ships from Crete to get Chinese people out of Libya since last week.

According to the Foreign Ministry, China had evacuated about 32,000 of its nationals from Libya as of 2 pm on Tuesday.

Among the evacuees, 9,000 were already back in China, roughly 21,000 were in a third country and 2,100 were on their way to a third country.

China Daily


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