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Slow U.S. evacuation plans leave thousands stranded
WASHINGTON — Thousands of Americans remained stranded Monday in Lebanon as the State and Defense departments developed plans to evacuate them.
By late Monday, 64 Americans had been flown by Marine helicopter to safety on the island of Cyprus. The pace of the evacuation angered some in the USA with relatives in the country.
"If anything, it seems to me the administration is willing to tolerate this, and they are not willing to interject themselves," said Nora Colton, whose husband, Middle Eastern studies expert Fawaz Gerges, and three of her children are in Lebanon.
As Israel and the militant Islamic group Hezbollah trade rocket attacks and airstrikes, European nations with citizens in Lebanon have evacuated more of their citizens more quickly than the United States.
For example, about 850 Swedes among about 5,000 in Lebanon have been evacuated, and Sweden also chartered three ships to bring Swedes from Beirut to Cyprus.
Colton said she was puzzled that Italy moved 350 Europeans out Monday and France docked a chartered Greek cruise liner that took away about 700 people, including some Americans.
Kurtis Cooper, a State Department spokesman, said U.S. officials didn't want to endanger Americans in Beirut in an ill-conceived evacuation.