Thursday, February 24, 2011

U.S. Ferry in Libya Stymied by Storm

Nearly 300 U.S. citizens and others have remained aboard a ferry docked in Tripoli for more than a day now, waiting for choppy seas to settle before they set sail for Malta

Aboard the Maria Dolores ferry, according to State Departments spokesman P.J. Crowley, there are 40 U.S. citizens who work for the U.S. government and their families, 127 private U.S. citizens and 118 citizens from other nations. There are also U.S. security and State Department personnel on the ferry, and other forces nearby.

"These people have been on board the ship for now well over 24 hours. I'm sure they're uncomfortable. They slept last night on the ship. You know, this is a ship that obviously can accommodate a large number of people, but I'm sure it's difficult for anyone who's on the ship for this long and it hasn't moved," Crowley said. "There are provisions on board the ship."

In addition, the U.S. still hopes to be able to land a charter flight in Tripoli to help evacuate remaining Americans.

"There are some Americans there still trying to make commercial connections, but we will spend today, you know, continuing to establish contact with any American citizen in Libya who wishes to leave. And it remains our strong recommendation that U.S. citizens, you know, depart Libya if they are able," Crowley said.

The U.S. also thanked the Libyans for securing the port, ensuring the safety of the Americans and others on the ferry.

"Undersecretary Bill Burns has had two conversations today with (Libyan) Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, talking about the situation in Libya as well as, you know, expressing our gratitude for the cooperation that Libya has shown in helping us with the evacuation of our citizens and making clear that we need to continue to have that level of cooperation as we continue our evacuation," Crowley said.

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