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18 Jul, 2006 04:02

Flight from the bombings: evacuation gathers pace

Flight from the bombings: evacuation gathers pace

Foreigners flee Lebanon and Gaza as Israel continues its bombardment. The first aircraft carrying Russians from Gaza has reached Moscow.

More Russians are expected to arrive back home over the next 24 hours from among around 100 Russian families living in Gaza.

Leaving was not an easy process, as Israel refused the use of Ben Gurion international airport. Those fleeing had to travel to Jordan, and fly from the capital, Amman. Most have left family members behind since Israel will not allow Palestinians through its territory, even with Russian passports. Israel has temporarily lifted an air and sea blockade on Lebanon to allow thousands of foreigners to leave. Russia's foreign ministry says 1,500 of its citizens are due leave Lebanon via Syria.

France has begun helping its 20,000 citizens there. Reports say up to 800 French people and other Europeans escaped on a Greek cruise liner chartered by the French government. Thousands of Americans fled on Monday and India became the latest to offer aid to its own people. An emergency plan is in place to help all its 12,000 citizens there. After six days of Israeli attacks on Lebanon, at least 210 people across Lebanon are reported killed. Violence began when members of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last week.