Russia is seeking permission for its planes to fly through Libyan airspace as it looks to evacuate its nationalsfrom the turbulent North African state, a spokesperson for Russia`s Emergency Situations Ministry said on Tuesday.
"Libyan airspace remains closed and permission for the flight of Russian planes is being coordinated through diplomatic channels," Irina Andrianova said.
Russia is to send four airplanes to evacuate a total of 563 RussiannationalsfromLibya. Most of them are employees of the Russian Railways monopoly and the Gazprom energy giant, or families of Russian diplomats.
"We are ready [for evacuation] but the Foreign Ministry has not confirmed that permission for landing has been given," a Russian diplomat said.
Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has asked the Russian embassy in Libya to "collect a maximum number of people in Tripoli."
"We should try to evacuate everyone from Tripoli. We have enough planes," the minister said.
Reports indicate up to 500 people could have been killed by government forces since protests against the country`s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi began February 15, and thousands more have been wounded.
The Libyan authorities have officially confirmed 84 deaths.
Egypt`s Army has reinforced the border with Libya and sent two transport planes to evacuate its nationals, Nile-TV reported on Tuesday.
The Egyptian military has also sent two ferries to evacuate people from the Benghazi airport in eastern Libya, where the runway has been destroyed.