Entries in Malta (3)


Libya: US Announces Sanctions; Fleeing Americans Arrive In Malta

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(VALLETTA, Malta) -- A ferry carrying 167 Americans and 118 other foreign nationals from Libya has arrived in Malta. The Maria Dolores had been struck in Tripoli for three days because of rough seas, and many passengers were sickened during the trip. Those who were aboard will now be processed, given a hot meal, a bed to sleep, and a hot shower, before further travel plans are made.

The U.S. has suspended diplomatic operations in Libya and is pulling its personnel from the country. The White House has announced sweeping economic sanctions against Libya and the temporary closing down of the entire U.S. Embassy in the country.

The arrival of the Maria Dolores in Malta came hours after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi blew kisses to a crowd of supporters in Tripoli Friday -- after his troops fired on demonstrators who had been chanting that Gadhafi must go. Although the past week has seen several bloody battles that have left anywhere from 300 to 1,000 dead, Gadhafi extorted the youth in the crowd, "Dance, sing, live your lives. Dance! Dance and Sing! Be happy! Ghadafi is here among his people." He ended his speech by blowing kisses to the cheering crowd.

Earlier, however, gunfire crackled through neighborhoods in the capital as marchers streamed out of Friday mosques services chanting anti-Gadhafi slogans.

Despite Gadhafi's determination to hang on to power, more of his regime crumbled Friday. In Geneva, Libya's entire U.N. mission publicly resigned and the U.N.'s Human Rights Council gave the Libyans a standing ovation.

The Human Rights Council was to convene a special session Friday to investigate reports of mass killings during the Libyan protests.

The situation was vastly different in the eastern half of Libya, which has mostly been taken over by opposition forces. Jubilant protesters told ABC News they will continue to fight, and there were huge turnouts for Friday prayers throughout the eastern part of the country.

Human rights groups put the death toll at 300. Witnesses said the number of the dead could be as high as a 1,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Slow Boat to Malta For Americans Trapped in Libya

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(MALTA) -- The United Kingdom has dispatched military aircraft, charter planes and the warship HMS Cumberland to evacuate Britons from Libya. The SAS -- Britain's most highly-trained special forces -- are reportedly on standby. Italy sent two huge cargo aircraft to bring their citizens home, according to wire reports.

Meanwhile, the citizens of the world's most powerful country find themselves in a different boat altogether -- one that's not moving anytime soon.

After Libya denied a U.S. request on Tuesday to use a charter plane to airlift Americans out of the country, the State Department decided to evacuate Americans by sea. The U.S. government charted a 600-person ferry, the Maria Dolores, to take Americans to the nearby island nation of Malta.

Americans arrived at the dock Wednesday and were processed onto the boat, but the ferry did not leave because of inclement weather. Although other boats are battling the rough seas, the ferry will not be leaving Thursday, according to the ferry operator Virtu.

The captain of the boat will reassess the weather Friday morning. Until then, the 285 people on board, including 127 Americans, will stay on the ship. The passengers are reportedly being well taken care of, being given meals, pillows, blankets and sleeping bags.

The State Department said Thursday that Libyan security was guarding the port.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tossed Cruise Ship Docks in Malta; Passengers Revolt over Refund

Photo Courtesy - Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images(VALLETTA, Malta) -- A Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked safely in Malta Tuesday morning after severely listing in rough seas over the weekend, tossing passengers and loose objects like rag dolls.

The Brilliance of the Seas was carrying 2,100 passengers, including 1,600 American vacationers, when it encountered rough waters over the weekend in what the cruise line described as a "serious incident."  The 90,000-ton ship swayed as far as 15 degrees in either direction several times.

Several passengers reported minor injuries such as bumps and bruises and at least two people suffered broken bones.

The problems began when the ship left Greece.  Vicious storms lashed the Mediterranean Sea just before 3 a.m. Sunday morning, slamming the ship with 30-foot waves and 80-mile-an-hour winds as it approached Egypt.

The ship never made it to Egypt as conditions were too rough.  Some passengers became angry when a cruise ship representative said they would offer everyone a $200 credit following the ordeal.  After those protests, Royal Caribbean reversed its decision and decided to offer passengers a refund for the full value of the cruise.

The ship is expected to stay in port for a couple of days.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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