Hundreds evacuated to Cyprus from Lebanon

About 350 people - most of them European citizens - were evacuated overnight from Lebanon to Cyprus through Syria on Italian military flights, officials said Sunday. The evacuees, who included Spaniards, Italians, Austrians, Czechs and Irish, were flown to Cyprus's Larnaca airport on five flights from Latakia, said Giorgos Yiangou, a foreign ministry official. They were carried out by Italian C-130 military transport planes. He said about 100 stayed in Cyprus, but there was no way to independently confirm that figure. "The rest either boarded planes to their final destination or are expected to do so by the end of the day," he added. At noon Sunday, an Olympic Airways flight chartered by the Greek government briefly landed in Larnaca with 140 people - mostly Greeks and Cypriots - evacuated from Lebanon. It continued to Athens after dropping off 40 Cypriots and 10 other foreign nationals. Meanwhile, a ferry chartered by France was preparing to sail from Cyprus to Lebanon later Sunday. "It is a French initiative for the transport of all European citizens from Lebanon with maritime means," said Sotos Zackheos, foreign ministry permanent secretary. Cyprus has said it will provide port and airport facilities for the evacuation of European and other nationals from Lebanon.