Kenyans safely evacuated from Libya

February 27, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – Kenyans living in the troubled Libya have been successfully evacuated from Tripoli and are now resting in Cairo before departing for Nairobi early Monday.

According to Kenya Airways its chartered plane has landed in Cairo and was due to depart for Nairobi with 151 passengers and 16 crew members. The plane is scheduled to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 0630 hours on Monday.

“KQ 1322 will depart Cairo for Nairobi on Monday 28 February at 0200 hours local time. The flight is expected to touch down at JKIA in Nairobi at 0630 hours,” said a statement from the airline.

“The flight landed safely in Cairo at 0600 hours local time where it is currently stationed to enable crew to rest in line with industry regulations.”

 In addition to the Kenyan citizens, the aircraft was used to evacuate nationals from 10 East African as well as Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) countries.

 Delayed departure from Tripoli was due to airport congestion and ground handling logistics. 
The aircraft that was dispatched to the North African country on Thursday night was unable to obtain a landing permit on time, and was forced to take an overnight stay in Cairo, Egypt.

The national carrier does not operate scheduled flights to Libya.

KQ Corporate Communications Manager Chris Karanja said there was also a curfew in Tripoli that affected passengers trying to reach the airport, further complicating the evacuation.

"By the time, we received our landing permit, the curfew in Libya was already in place therefore we could not land and passengers could also not travel to the airport," Mr Karanja said.

Reports say there are 94 Kenyans living in Libya.  Eighty seven are working there while seven are embassy officials. They live in major cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sabha, Ghat and Uvari in southern Libya.

Most of them work for construction companies, as domestic workers, with airlines and as teachers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs approached the national carrier following weeks of unrest in Libya with protesters vowing to oust the leader Muammar Gaddafi from the helm, which he has held for over 40 years.

Already scores of people are reported to have been killed in the North African country as Gaddafi tries to beat down the uprising.

Several other countries announced major rescue efforts in an international scramble that snarled operations at Tripoli airport, forcing several Libyan-bound flights to be re-routed to Malta.

Anarchy descended on Tripoli airport as thousands of foreigners packed into the terminal to try to escape the widening crisis, with those who managed to leave describing how food and water were running low.

Nearly 20,000 people have also fled Libya by road to Tunisia over the past four days amid the bloodshed sparked by the Libyan leader\’s attempts to cling to power.
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