INCHEON -- A chartered Korean Air plane carrying 235 South Koreans out of strife-torn Libya arrived in Seoul Saturday, as the government was preparing to send another to bring home more Koreans stranded there.
Those who returned home were met at Incheon International Airport by relatives and friends. Also arriving with them were three foreigners.
Despite the long flight, all looked healthy. One of them, Kwon Yong-woo, a 47-year-old worker at a construction site in Tripoli, said he was shocked by violent clashes between protesters and government forces there.
"I'm glad to safely get out of Libya. In Tripoli, government and anti-government forces ruthlessly fired machine guns," Kwon said. "Some 200 to 300 looters attacked stores and set them ablaze.
I witnessed six bodies."
It was the second charter plane the Seoul government had sent to evacuate its nationals out of Libya. On Friday, an Egypt Air charter flight brought 198 South Koreans to Cairo.
Hours before the arrival of the second plane, the South's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs advised local construction firms to make arrangements to pull out their 745 workers from Libya "urgently."
Officials at the foreign ministry said they've decided to dispatch another Korean Air plane to evacuate more Koreans there.
About 1,400 South Koreans were working in Libya, mostly for their country's construction firms. So far, 646 South Korean nationals have fled Libya, according to foreign ministry officials.
Earlier in the day, the foreign ministry said it was working
together with the defense ministry and the ministry of land and
transportation around the clock to make sure that Korean nationals
evacuate safely and to ensure the safety of those remaining in
South Korea has also directed a warship, which has been
conducting anti-piracy operations near Somalia, towards Libya to
help evacuate its nationals 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