Canadian evacuation aircraft leaves Tripoli empty

Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:43am EST
 
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ROME (Reuters) - An aircraft chartered by the Canadian government left Tripoli empty Friday after no Canadians or citizens from other western countries were waiting at the airport, a government spokeswoman said.

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters in Rome on Thursday evening the flight had been chartered in Amman to help evacuate some of an estimated 200 Canadian nationals who had been waiting at Tripoli airport.

However his spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said the flight had left Tripoli airport without picking up any passengers.

"The Amman flight left Tripoli empty. There were no Canadians at the airport at the time and the aircraft cannot stay put. There were no other citizens from like-minded countries who needed the flight," she said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

She said she had no further details for the present.

A Canadian military C17 aircraft which flew to Rome on Thursday to assist in the evacuation is still waiting in Italy, Lantsman said.

Conditions at Tripoli airport have been described as chaotic and a separate Canadian-chartered flight was canceled on Thursday because of security concerns.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and James Mackenzie)