First of two UK evacuation flights leaves for Libya

February 23rd, 2011 - 8:11 pm ICT by BNO News  

LONDON (BNO NEWS) — A British charter flight on Wednesday afternoon left for the Libyan capital of Tripoli to evacuate hundreds of British nationals, the UK Foreign Office said.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said the first of two charter flights left Gatwick Airport in London at approximately 12.30 p.m. local time. “It is scheduled to land at Tripoli Airport later today. We are hopeful that the flight will return to the UK this evening,” the spokesperson said, adding that a second flight will leave for Libya as soon as possible.

Libya has been plunged into chaos as massive anti-government protests continue nationwide, resulting in a violent crackdown by security forces which included aerial bombardments on protesters. At least 300 people and as many as more than 1,000 people have been killed in the uprising, but confirmed information has been difficult to obtain due to restrictions by Libyan authorities.

The first charter plane, a Boeing 757, will have a capacity of approximately 200 passengers. “Our Embassy in [Tripoli] is already in contact with around 300 British Nationals in and around Tripoli and giving instructions on how to catch the flight,” the spokesperson said, adding that other British nationals who want to leave on this flight can call the Foreign Office helpline on 020 7008 0000.

The spokesperson added: “A consular team from the Embassy is already on the ground at Tripoli airport and is in place to assist British Nationals. They will be reinforced by two specialist consular teams. One team has already arrived. Another is on the charter plane from Gatwick. The charter plane will be bringing supplies of food and water for British Nationals at the airport.”

The UK Foreign Office said it will not charge British nationals who are taking the evacuation flights to London, possibly in response to criticizes that the British government did not act quickly enough to evacuate its citizens.

When the British government announced a charter flight for British nationals in Egypt, the Foreign Office said it would charge passengers £300 ($487).

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