Operations are underway to evacuate Chinese nationals from Libya. Three ferries have been leased by authorities and are making their way from Greece to Benghazi. Meanwhile a plane is on its way to evacuate citizens.
The chartered Air China flight took off in Beijing at 5 p.m. Wednesday for Libya to bring back Chinese citizens.
The flight was originally scheduled at Wednesday morning and land in Greece's capital Athens first.
However, a strike in Athens' airport delayed the takeoff.
"We run no airline between China and Libya," said Liu Rui, Air China Pilots Team. "And the airports there are closed, so we chose the nearby Athens as a terminal. The flight is challenging cause both the route and ground information are unclear to us. We'll keep in contact with the Chinese embassy there. They will keep us updated."
The crew has been studying details of their flight.
The captain gained experience in hostile situations when evacuating Chinese nationals from Egypt.
Inspired by protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyan protesters started to take to the streets early last week in a bid to end Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year-long rule, plunging the North African country into violent chaos and bloodshed.
China has urged Libya to protect its compatriots.
"I urge the Libyan government and all parties concerned to ensure life and property safety of Chinese and other foreign nationals in Libya, and call on all parties to enhance international cooperation and facilitate their evacuation," said Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of Chinese Mission to the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the first batch of 83 nationals were evacuated from Libya to Egypt through the border crossing early Wednesday.
The Chinese Embassy in Cairo said more Chinese citizens will be evacuated via Egypt and before then being flown back to China.
Currently a large number of Chinese nationals are still stranded in the border area on the Libyan side.
(CNTV.cn February 24, 2011)