Cyprus braces for mass influx

Cyprus yesterday braced for an influx of hundreds of people being evacuated from Lebanon via air and sea lifts organized by a host of foreign governments. A Greek cruise ship which has been chartered by France to collect hundreds of French and Europeans, including 200 unaccompanied children, from Beirut, is due to dock at Limassol today, the ministry said. The Ierapetra will then conduct a series of additional crossings, the ministry said. Greece has sent a navy frigate to Lebanon to collect about 100 people and has another three warships on standby. An Italian warship carrying nearly 400 evacuees was expected in Larnaca yesterday evening. Sweden has also chartered three ships to bring Swedes from Beirut to Cyprus. Britain evacuated some 40 people by Chinook to its Akrotiri base yesterday and sent an aircraft carrier and warship to the Middle East. The US brought 21 Americans to Larnaca by helicopter and asked Cyprus to be the hub of its evacuation operation.