Three German military vessels have arrived in Malta to be on hand to evacuate workers from Libya.

Two of the vessels are expected to take onboard German nationals who landed here earlier this week during the evacuation exercise from Tripoli airport.

The vessels Berlin and Rheinland Pflaz have entered harbour, while the Brandenbur to to remain offshore.

Rough seas in the centre of the Mediterranean are continuing to hamper the evacuation of workers with a number of ships which had been expected in Malta today now expected early tomorrow.

Just over 2,000 Chinese workers in Libya are expected to be brought to Malta on the Roma, a Maltese ship chartered by the Chinese authorities. They will stay on board the ship until aircraft come to pick them up, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Previous reports from other sources said the Chinese workers were to be landed in Crete - which is nearer to Benghazi, where they were embarked.

Thirteen Maltese are understood to be on the same ship.

Two German naval vessels and the British frigate HMS Cumberland are also due in Malta during the night, carrying evacuated workers.

Local agents have also been chartering vessels on behalf of companies trying to get their workers out of Libya.

A Brazilian company has chartered a cruise ship to bring 3,000 workers to Malta from Tripoli. The ship was due to arrive in Tripoli this morning.

Two Virtu Ferries catamarans, chartered by the US State Department and a US company, have still been unable to leave Tripoli harbour. They are now scheduled to leave Tripoli at 1 p.m. The catamarans arrived there on Wednesday. Hundreds of Americans, some Canadians and Maltese are on board. The crew had reported waves as high as 16 feet in the central Mediterranean.

Xinhua, reporting information given to it by Zhang Keyuan, the Chinese ambassador to Malta, said that considering the exit and entry procedures, and the local accommodation capability, the Chinese evacuees will remain on the ship temporarily before boarding chartered flights back home in batches.

Informed sources told that two large A340 aircraft are already scheduled to come to Malta to ferry some of the workers back home.

Zhang told Xinhua that the Chinese embassy in Malta is making strenuous efforts to ensure the follow-up evacuations.

Being short-staffed, the embassy has mobilized personnel from local Chinese cultural institutions and companies to facilitate the evacuees' early and safe return to China.

Sources said yesterday that the Maltese government has been in contact with hotels and is even preparing to pitch tents to temporarily accommodate hundreds of workers who are expected to be evacuated to Malta on boats and aircraft.

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