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Second charter flight brings S. Koreans out of turmoil-battered Libya

A second South Korea-chartered plane has flown out of Libya as part of Seoul's efforts to evacuate its nationals from the North African nation engulfed in bloody clashes between protesters and government forces, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The special Korean Air flight left the Libyan capital of Tripoli with 236 South Koreans on board around 11 p.m. Friday (6 a.m. Saturday Korean time) before arriving in Rome about an hour and a half later, said Seoul's land and transportation ministry.

The plane then headed to Seoul and is scheduled to arrive around 9 p.m., it said.

It was the second chartered flight to evacuate South Koreans from Libya.

On Friday, an Egypt Airlines flight brought 198 South Koreans out of the turmoil-battered North African nation to Cairo.

Another Egypt Airlines charter flight is expected to leave Surte in central Libya later Saturday, carrying up to 68 South Koreans, officials said.

Dozens of other South Koreans have also exited Libya by land, either to Egypt or Tunisia.

Officials had said that if the evacuation plan proceeds as scheduled, there would be 575 South Koreans remaining in Libya, down from a peak of some 1,400. It is believed that those remaining intend to stay there for now, but they could change their minds if the situation worsens, officials said.

South Korea has also directed a warship, which has been conducting anti-piracy operations near Somalia, towards Libya to help evacuate South Koreans in case other evacuation means are limited.

"This is to prepare for the worst case such as airport shutdowns," an official said.

The 4,500-ton destroyer Choi Young left the Gulf of Aden on Thursday afternoon and is expected to reach Libya in the first week of March.

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