Following is a timeline of the U.S. government's efforts to evacuate Americans from Lebanon:
July 12—Hezbollah gunmen kill three Israeli soldiers and kidnap two. Israeli forces retaliate by pounding Lebanon. Beirut International Airport is bombed. The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon urges Americans to review their security and travel plans.
July 13—The embassy urges American citizens to avoid nonessential travel in Lebanon.
July 14—The embassy authorizes the families of embassy staff members and non-emergency American employees to leave. It urges Americans in Lebanon to evaluate their security and consider departing, and it advises those who remain to keep low profiles and vary times and routes for all required travel.
July 15—The embassy announces that it's working with the Department of Defense on a plan to help American citizens depart Lebanon through the island nation of Cyprus. The State Department reminds Americans that it doesn't provide free transportation for evacuees, but says it's authorized to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need.
July 16—U.S. Marine Corps helicopters begin ferrying small numbers of Americans from the embassy compound north of Beirut to Cyprus.
July 17—The Pentagon announces that it's contracted a Greek cruise ship, the Orient Queen, escorted by an American destroyer, to evacuate Americans from Lebanon. There are an estimated 25,000 Americans in Lebanon; the ship can carry 750 passengers.
July 18—The embassy announces that it's "monitoring the situation in Lebanon closely" and "reviewing all options" for assisting Americans who want to leave. The embassy says further information will be released by the media and in embassy announcements and warden messages. Americans who wish to depart are told that they should prepare passports and other important travel documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates and medical records. Those who leave will be allowed one small suitcase.
The Pentagon announces that nine other Navy vessels, additional helicopters and a Saudi Arabian cruise ship will join the evacuation. The State Department announces plans to evacuate more than 2,400 Americans by sea and air. At least 5,000 are expected to leave.
Source: News reports and U.S. Embassy Lebanon warden messages. For the latest embassy messages, go to: http://lebanon.usembassy.gov/lebanon/messages.html
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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