Ninety New Zealanders evacuated from Lebanon

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Ninety New Zealanders have been evacuated from war-torn Lebanon and are on their way to the safety of Cyprus. Three ships are helping in the evacuations, two British Navy and one United Nations (UN) chartered ferry.

There are 1,500 people on board the two British ships "There are definitely New Zealanders aboard, but there just isn't an actual passenger list. We're hoping there are quite good numbers of New Zealanders onboard," Helen Tunnah, a spokeswoman for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), said.

Officer Andrew Greig's family, which includes his wife and two sons, are on board the UN ferry.

This evacuation comes after Britain announced it will conduct a formal evacuation, which also includes New Zealand citizens because New Zealand does not have an embassy in Lebanon.

Israel has been attacking Lebanon for three weeks. Hundreds of civilians and two Israeli soldiers have already died due to this conflict as well as two Hezbollah fighters and about twenty Lebanese soldiers.

MFAT will help the New Zealand evacuees find accommodation and help them with getting travel arrangements. "Because of the sheer number of people wishing to leave, it is expected to take days before the evacuation is completed," Helen Tunnah said.

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