Updated 8.05 a..m. Saturday

An operation to welcome hundreds of expatriate workers evacuated from Libya kicked off smoothly at Grand Harbour last night.

Catamarans and the British frigate Cumberland carrying people of some 20 nationalities but mostly Americans, Britons and Canadians arrived last night. Six Maltese were also on board.

Upon disembarkation, the passengers were asked if they needed medical assistance by medics and personnel from the Civil Protection department.. A small number of people were disembarked on stretchers.

All passengers were offered food and drink. Special attention was also given to children.

Veterinary Officials were also present since a number of pets were brought over by some of the families.

Ten passengers on the two American-chartered catamarans were given assistance on the quay, of whom three were later transferred to hospital on waiting ambulances. Many had suffered sea-sickness.

The other passengers were transferred on a fleet of waiting buses to a number of hotels pending their flight home.

Most of the Americans are expected to continue on their long journey home this morning.

The catamarans, which carried some 800 passengers, arrived after a rough eight-hour journey because of the rough sea. But their ordeal started much earlier. They embarked on Wednesday but still spent another two tension-filled days in Tripoli since heavy seas meant the catamaran could not sail.

The two catamarans will be leaving Malta for Tripoli again at midnight to evacuate more workers.

See comments by some of the passengers, including the Maltese, on video above.

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