>TCG İskenderun Heads To Libya, To Evacuate Turkish Citizens (UPDATED)

According to a source on location, A-1600 TCG İskenderun left Mersin this morning and is heading to Libya, to pick up the trapped Turkish citizens.

It is estimated that there are 25.000 Turkish citizens in Libya currently mostly working at the projects of the Turkish construction companies.

The daily Hürriyet reported that till yesterday, 581 Turkish citizens have returned to Turkey by air. Libyan civil aviation authority did not gave landing permission to a THY plane on route to Benghazi an the plane had to return to Turkey this morning. There are no official announcements neither from Turkish General Staff nor from Turkish Navy about the departure of TCG İskenderun yet. She is a car ferry built in Camialtı Shipyard, in Istanbul to a Polish design. She is one of the three ships of the same class.

The other two M/F Ankara and M/F Samsun are used by Turkish Maritime Lines. M/F İskenderun was handed over to Turkish Navy in 2002. TCG İskenderun was used for the evacuation of Turkish citizens trapped in Beirut during the 2006 Israeli – Hezbollah war.

Official IDO Photo.

UPDATE: According to news portal ntvmsnbc Turkey is sending two more ferries to Libya for the evacuation of Turkish citizens. An unnamed frigate will escort them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a crisis center for the situation. Approximately 3000 people asked for evacuation.

The two passenger ferries to be used are, Auto Express 88 class M/F Osmangazi and M/F Orhangazi. They are built by Austal, and each can carry 1200 passengers and 225 cars. They are usually used in coastal routes around the Marmara Sea. This will be their longest journey with passengers.

UPDATE 2: The passenger ferries left Istanbul at 13:00 local time and the are estimated to reach Libya in 22 hours.

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