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Boats to take Swedes from Beirut on Tuesday

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11:02 CEST+02:00
1,645 Swedes are expected to be evacuated from Lebanon on Tuesday. If everything goes to plan, a boat chartered by Sweden will depart from Beirut harbour at noon local time (1pm Swedish time).

There is room on board for 445 Swedes and will head for the city of Mersin in Turkey. From there, the passengers will be taken to Adana and then flown back to Stockholm.

"We have bought 1,500 places on the planes, and if there's not enough room on regular flights then we will charter more," said Jan Janonius at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press office.

At 7pm on Tuesday another boat with room for 1,200 Swedes will set off from Beirut to Larnaca in Cyprus, and at 8am on Thursday a further vessel, with a capacity of 700 people, will depart from the war-struck Lebanese capital.

Jan Janonius emphasised that the plans could change quickly due to the military action in the area and that the boats' captains would ultimately decide whether it is safe to travel.

No buses will be used on Tuesday to transport Swedes to Syria for onward connections to Sweden, since all available vehicles are being used to get people to Beirut harbour.

Chaotic scenes were reported in Beirut as queuing systems broke down. One Swede waiting to board the first boat out of the city told The Local that "men with guns were forcing their way to the front and getting their families on first".

Nina Ersman in the foreign ministry press office confirmed that the situation was tense.

"It has been a very difficult situation. But we have 14 extra personnel there working hard to organise everyone. Everybody must have their papers checked before they can board the boat," she said.

She added that Lebanese police were providing security as Swedish officials organised the evacuees.

"We cannot bring in our own formal security, even in a country at war," she told The Local.

Other countries are also scrambling to evacuate their citizens. France and Italy transported hundreds of nationals to Cyprus on Monday evening, while the US and Britain were expected to begin their own sea evacuations on Tuesday.

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