- - Sunday, March 6, 2011

GREECE

Libya evacuees drown swimming from ship

ATHENS | At least three Bangladeshi evacuees from insurrection-hit Libya died after they tried to swim to shore from a ship moored in Souda port on the island of Crete, the Greek coast guard said on Sunday.

Two of the victims drowned while the third died from hypothermia. They had worked in Libya for Korean firm Daewoo Engineering & Construction, the Athens News Agency reported, citing a statement by the Korean embassy to Athens.

A further 13 people were missing and divers were searching Souda harbor for them. A coast guard official said, however, they might have made it to the shore, escaping inland.

About 50 evacuees used a rope to descend from the moored ship so as to enter Greece illegally, the Civil Protection ministry said in a statement.

The victims, all from Bangladesh, probably tried to avoid being sent back to their home country, according to a coast guard official. A total 29 people were hospitalized.

The “Ionian King,” a ferry, was carrying a total of 1,288 evacuees from Tripoli, most of them Bangladeshis.

The unrest in northern Africa has heightened worries about a wave of illegal immigration into Europe. Thousands of workers from countries such as Vietnam and China have been evacuated from Libya, many of them on Greek ships.

Daewoo, which has the biggest exposure to Libya among Korean firms, said on Thursday it had sent ships there to evacuate nearly 3,000 workers

GERMANY

Official wants tougher sanctions on Gadhafi

BERLIN | The U.N. Security Council should launch fresh sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a newspaper on Sunday.

“Selective sanctions are necessary against those who are responsible for crimes against the Libyan people,” Mr. Westewelle told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “The flow of money must be cut off.”

BRITAIN

Britain negotiating release of soldiers in Libya

LONDON | Britain on Sunday was negotiating to secure the release of a special forces unit believed to have been captured by rebels in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a human rights activist said.

On Saturday, the Geneva-based Human Rights Solidarity group, which employs a number of Libyan exiles, told Reuters a team of “eight special forces personnel” had been seized by rebels.

Contacted by Reuters again on Sunday, the rights group said the soldiers were apprehended in a location 6¼ miles from Benina airport, which serves Benghazi.

An activist with the group, Jiumma Elomami, said “they are under arrest but we have information that the British authorities are now negotiating with the new opposition council to negotiate their release.”

He said it was not clear whether British officials also had been arrested alongside the crack troops from a unit that has seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan and has a special place in British military folklore.

Rebels in Benghazi confirmed on Sunday that they had captured members of the British special forces but said they were being treated well and the issue would be resolved soon.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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