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Irish Air Corps to make second attempt to evacuate Irish people in Libya

The Department of Foreign Affairs will attempt to put a crisis management team including the Irish Ambassador to Italy on the ground in Tripoli today.

Irish Air Corps pilots prepare for takeoff from Baldonnel on Tuesday
Irish Air Corps pilots prepare for takeoff from Baldonnel on Tuesday
Image: Irish Defence Forces

Updated 2.25pm

THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS will look to put a crisis management team on the ground in the Tripoli today as they attempt to evacuate Irish people stranded in Libya.

An Irish Air Corps plane is expected to make a second attempt at evacuating Irish people in the capital city after they were prevented from doing so yesterday.

A DFA official told TheJournal.ie that a crisis management team will attempt to get to Tripoli International Airport today and locate and help Irish people in the terminal building seeking to be evacuated.

The department have confirmed this afternoon that the Irish ambassador to Italy Patrick Hennessy will be part of the delegation.

The CASA plane had to leave Tripoli last night and return to its base in Valetta, Malta after Libyan security forces at the airport prevented it from picking up Irish people.

The DFA said this morning that they understand there are 54 people seeking to leave Tripoli but there are no exact numbers of how many are at the airport. A total of 70 Irish citizens are believed to be in Libya.

The department also has concerns about Irish people working for the Mercury engineering firm in the eastern city of Benghazi which is widely reported to have fallen to opposition forces.

The DFA say Benghazi airport is currently “unoperational”.

A very small number of Irish managed to leave Tripoli last night on flights that other European governments had operated.

Efforts will be made with Ireland’s EU partners to evacuate more people on such flights today.

Violence has erupted across Libya as protesters demand that the country’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi step down after over four decades in power.

Estimates say that as many as 1,000 people may have been killed in the violence between demonstrators and pro-Gaddafi supporters and mercenaries.

Gaddafi has remained defiant, refusing to step down.

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Hugh O'Connell

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