LIBYA: Ferry carrying U.S. evacuees leaves Tripoli for Malta

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A ferry carrying Americans out of violence-plagued Libya left Tripoli on Friday after nearly three days of delay, a State Department spokesman has confirmed.

The M/V Maria Delores, carrying 300 evacuees, more than half of them U.S. citizens, left the Libyan capital at 1:37 p.m. local time, said spokesman Philip J. Crowley.


‘The ferry carrying American and international citizens from Libya to Malta is finally underway,’ Crowley announced via Twitter, noting that the voyage would take about eight hours.

The vessel’s departure had been held up by bad weather. Other ships carrying foreign nationals attempting to flee the chaos engulfing Libya for the past 10 days had managed to set sail, prompting concerns that the embattled regime of Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi might have been blocking the U.S.-chartered exit.

Crowley had said earlier that the passengers were safe and cared for since they boarded early Wednesday.

U.S. requests to land chartered aircraft in Libya to evacuate citizens had been denied earlier this week but the State Department was reported to be renewing plans for an airlift.

-- Carol J. Williams