… from Tripoli. The United States chartered a ferry to Tripoli and asked all Americans to get on board. The ferry had arrived two days ago, but been unable to depart because of high seas. It has now successfully and safely done so.
The ferry departed from Tripoli just after 6:30 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, early afternoon local time, and was expected to reach Valletta within eight hours.
Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said at least 167 Americans were on board the ship. The State Department has said 40 members of the United States Embassy as well as family members were among the passengers.
It was not immediately clear if all the Embassy staff had been evacuated or just nonessential personnel.
The stalled evacuation had led the Obama administration to temper its condemnations of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government, with officials worrying that the Libyan government could take American diplomats hostage.
The State Department said roughly 6,000 American citizens, most of them holding dual citizenship, were in Libya when the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi began. Mr. Crowley has said that he believed that those holding dual citizenship would need Libyan government permission to depart.
In addition to the ferry evacuation, the United States Embassy said on its Web site that it was chartering a flight from Tripoli for Friday; an earlier effort to fly Americans out of Libya had been frustrated on Wednesday when a plane chartered by the United States was denied permission to land.
The State Department Thursday said 285 people were on the ferry, but on Friday it said the number jumped above 300 and that more people had been let on before departure.
Around Libya, frantic operations to evacuate foreigners from the widening chaos continued Friday, and European officials were already looking toward the next challenge: coping with what could be a huge influx of refugees from across the Mediterranean.
More than 10,000 people crowded into Tripoli’s main airport on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.