BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The second chartered plane sent by the Chinese government to evacuate its nationals from Libya left Beijing early Thursday morning.
The Air China plane, an Airbus A330-200, carried a joint task group of officials from several ministries and emergency relief materials including food and medicines and took off at 2:28 a.m., according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The first chartered plane took off about nine hours ago, on Wednesday afternoon, also carrying a joint task group and emergency relief materials.
Song Zhiyong, vice president of China National Aviation Holding Company, told Xinhua that the first plane would have a stopover in Athens before heading to Libya's capital Tripoli.
Since the unrest erupted in Libya on Feb. 16, people had been attacked and there had been vandalism, looting and arson, and Chinese firms had also been attacked and Chinese nationals injured, China's Foreign Ministry said earlier.
Besides the chartered planes, four ocean liners, hired by Chinese embassies in Greece and Malta, were on their way to the waters near Libya, and the Chinese Embassy in Egypt also had hired about 100 buses to evacuate Chinese nationals from the country, the ministry said.
Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Ioannis Diamantidis promised to provide assistance to China's evacuation of nationals from Libya.
During a meeting Wednesday with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, also head of an emergency headquarter to organize the evacuation, Diamantidis said the Greek government had ordered its local governments to do their best to cooperate with the Chinese side.
He said the island of Crete, a transfer place for the nationals evacuated from Libya's Benghazi, had the capability to provide accommodation for Chinese nationals.
Zhang extended the Chinese government's gratitude for Greece's assistance.
Seven ships had departed from Greece for Libya to help in the evacuation, according to the Greek minister, saying it would take 10 hours for the ships to reach the Crete from Libya's Benghazi.
The majority of Chinese nationals in Libya are employees of Chinese companies with operations in the country.
Early Wednesday, 83 Chinese nationals, working as business staff and construction workers of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), were evacuated from Libya to Egypt.