Sri Lanka looks to evacuate 1,200 in Libya as Asian nations pull out citizens

NEW DELHI, February 23, 2011 (AFP) – Asian nations on Wednesday prepared evacuation plans for more than 100,000 migrant workers trapped in Libya, many of them low-paid labourers toiling on construction sites. Arrangements to use passenger ships, planes and land routes to Egypt were being considered by governments as they try to secure their citizens’ safety despite poor communication links and growing violence.

The majority of expatriates caught up in the unrest are contract workers, with 60,000 Bangladeshis, 30,000 Filipinos, 23,000 Thais and 18,000 Indians among those living under the tottering regime of Moamer Kadhafi.

China is readying plans to rescue about 30,000 citizens, many of them engineers involved in investment projects in the oil, rail and telecoms sectors, while Hanoi is monitoring conditions for 10,000 Vietnamese.

“This is going to be quite a mammoth operation,” India’s foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters in New Delhi. “We will have to not only put in place arrangements for aircraft or ships, but also obtain permission from Libyan authorities for our aircraft to land there.”

Of the 18,000 Indians in Libya, about 3,000 are reported to be in the violence-hit city of B