Babylon & Beyond

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LIBYA: U.S.-chartered ferry still blocked in Tripoli, 285 still on board

February 24, 2011 | 10:42 am

The ferry chartered by the U.S. government to evacuate Americans wanting to leave violence-wracked Libya remains docked at Tripoli harbor for a second day, the State Department reported Thursday.

The U.S. government statement said 285 passengers were on board, including 167 U.S. citizens, down from the 575 reported to have boarded the vessel early Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear when or why about half the passengers had disembarked. But concerns have been expressed by analysts observing the chaotic scene in Tripoli that the regime of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi may be holding up the ferry's departure to deter any U.S. or allied action against him.

The State Department said the government expected the ferry to depart "in the next several hours," a forecast similar to the one made 24 hours earlier.

-- Carol J. Williams