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Boatload of Canadians and others leaves Libya amid chaos

The push to get foreigners, including hundreds of Canadians, out of Libya has intensified, Wednesday.

Chaos at the airport in Libya has forced thousands of people to flee the violence by boat from Tripoli. A ferry carrying 26 Canadians, as well as Americans, Britons and others, is headed to Malta.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said final arrangements have also been made for an evacuation flight for Canadians on Thursday.

Lynn Meahen said landing rights for the plane have been approved and Canadians registered. The embassy is advising people to get to Tripoli airport by noon Thursday.

The Skylink aircraft will take the evacuees to Rome. Evacuees will have to sign an agreement promising to repay the government the cost of $500 a seat.

The embassy said it’s currently looking at options to assist the departure of Canadians from the Benghazi area.

Cannon is urging Canadians to leave the North African country, which has been thrown into chaos by anti-government protests and a violent crackdown by leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Unease over the safety of U.S. citizens intensified after failed attempts earlier this week to get them out. But U.S. citizens climbed aboard a 600-passenger ferry at Tripoli’s As-shahab port on Wednesday afternoon for a five-hour journey to Malta, a Mediterranean island south of Italy.

Two Turkish ships whisked 3,000 citizens away from the chaos engulfing the North African nation as Turkey cranked up its largest-ever evacuation, seeking to protect its estimated 25,000 workers in Libya.

More than 200 Turkish companies are involved in construction projects in Libya worth over $15 billion, and some construction sites have come under attack by protesters.

Two Turkish commercial ships left the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi on Wednesday escorted by a navy frigate. They headed for Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Marmaris, where a soup kitchen and a field hospital were set up and buses were brought in to transfer the evacuees. Turkey also sent two more ships to Libya and flew 250 more Turkish citizens back home.

Over a dozen countries, including Russia, China, Germany and Ukraine, sent planes in to help their people escape an increasingly unstable situation.

Meanwhile, White House officials said Wednesday the U.S. is reviewing options to compel Libya to stop the violence, including imposing sanctions.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council condemned the violent crackdown against civilians in that country. In a statement agreed to by the 15 council members, the council expressed “grave concern” at the situation and called for an “immediate end to the violence.”

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