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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:39, July 19, 2006
L. American nations evacuate citizens from Lebanon
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A number of Latin American countries have moved to evacuate their citizens from Lebanon, after around 200 people there have been killed by Israeli bombings, said reports on Tuesday.

Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil have asked Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian and Israeli authorities to help with the evacuation.

A total of 280 Mexican citizens would be evacuated in the next few hours "if circumstances allow," said Luis Arturo Puente, Mexico's ambassador to Lebanon, by telephone from the Lebanese capital Beirut.

There are an estimated number of 1,060 Mexicans in Lebanon, with 860 being residents and 200 tourists.

"So far we have had no word of Mexicans who have been killed or wounded," Puente said.

The Argentine Foreign Ministry said the nation had already evacuated one Argentine family to Cyprus, and Argentine ambassador to Lebanon Jose Pedro Pico was maintaining contact with all Argentines in Lebanon.

An Argentine citizen named Monica Lerer de Saidman died on Thursday when Lebanese Hezbollah militia shelled the Israeli city of Nahriya, close to the Lebanese border.

Israel started a bombing campaign on Wednesday that has killed around 200 civilians, after Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Chile said that it would soon airlift 20 Chileans to Cyprus where they were to fly to France.

Roberto Abu-Eid Ayub, Chile's consul in Lebanon, described the situation in Lebanon as one of "terror and danger".

Venezuela had informed Israel that an estimated 400 Latin Americans, including Colombians, Brazilians, Venezuelans and Uruguayans, would leave Beirut in a caravan of coaches, which will carry the flags of Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay -- the organizing nations -- to avoid attack.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said separately on Tuesday that 150 Venezuelan citizens had left Lebanon safe and sound.

He added that Lebanon had around 4,000 residents with Venezuelan passports, but only 500 people had contacted Venezuela's embassy in Lebanon, seeking to return to Venezuela or take refuge there.

The bulk of foreign evacuees leaving Beirut are women and children.

Colombia's Foreign Minister Carolina Barco said there were 2,000 Colombian citizens living in Lebanon, and the Colombian government is working hard to put together its own caravan heading for Damascus, the capital of neighboring Syria.

Brazil evacuated 100 people in a government-chartered plane on Tuesday, including five Argentines.

Source: Xinhua


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