NEWS

Greeks fly home from Libya

Dozens of Greeks who had been living and working in Libya arrived in Athens in the early hours of Friday morning after being flown out of the north African country on two military transport planes.

The C-130 aircraft carried many of some 300 Greeks who lived in Libya but operations to evacuate others will continue amid clashes between pro-democracy protestors and security forces.

?We should be proud of our armed forces and of the people who serve our state,? said Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis, who was on board one of the military aircraft, which was carrying 83 evacuees from Tripoli.

?The scenes we saw and the way our people managed to survive cannot be described easily,? he added.

A Greek embassy employee who had been hit by a bullet in his shoulder and leg was also on one of the planes. He was taken to the hospital in Athens but is not thought to be in any danger.

?People showed great courage in the face of a tough situation,? said Kyriakos Chorafos, one of the Greeks who returned to Athens. ?At some point, the situation will calm down and we will return.?

On Thursday, two Greek ferries arrived in Iraklio, Crete, after picking up several thousand passengers from the port city of Benghazi.

Although there were 17 Greeks on board, the majority of passengers were Chinese. It is estimated that there were some 4,500 Chinese oil and construction workers on the vessels. Greece is helping China evacuate up to 15,000 of its citizens from Libya.

Several other Greek passenger ferries, the Eleftherios Venizelos, the Nisos Rodos, the Express Santorini and the Knossos Palace are on their way to Libya to pick up more evacuees.