BEIRUT, Lebanon – British and American officials said their evacuations from Lebanon were wrapping up on Monday, as ships continued to carry people to safety in Cyprus and Turkey.
Two ships, the Jean Bart frigate and the Ierapetra, brought about 1,300 French nationals and more than 200 other foreigners to Larnaca, Cyprus, between Sunday and Monday. The group included about 100 Lebanese, as well as some Germans, Belgians and Italians.
The USS Trenton, carrying more than 1,000 U.S. citizens, arrived in the Mediterranean Turkish port city of Mersin, and the evacuees were being taken to a nearby air base to fly home. The USS Nashville brought about 600 people into the port of Limassol, Cyprus.
Hundreds of Australians also reached Mersin late Sunday.
Many of those leaving Lebanon had fled the south and described harrowing journeys over bombed-out roads to reach Beirut.
"We had to take back roads through the mountains and some very rough areas. We were in a bus full of children and elderly people," said Yasser Jahami, 38. The Cleveland resident drove his wife and 11-month-old daughter from his parents' home in Tyre to Sidon, where they hitched a charter bus ride to Beirut.
"You could hear the planes flying low and you never know what's going to happen," he said, pushing a stroller.
The last large group of Britons requesting evacuation sailed out of Beirut's harbor Sunday.
"We have brought back the last designated ship carrying people who wanted ... assisted departure," said Dennis Barnes, spokesman for British military bases in Cyprus.
He said a total of about 4,500 Britons had been evacuated, no more had registered to leave, "and the embassy tells us no one is knocking on their door."
U.S. Consul William Gill said most Americans who wanted to leave Lebanon had done so by Sunday and U.S. evacuation efforts were nearly complete. He also urged anyone considering leaving to make up their minds quickly as fighting between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas showed no sign of waning.
About 12,000 Americans have been evacuated from Lebanon, officials said. Some 25,000 Americans were believed to be in Lebanon at the start of hostilities.
Many boarding U.S. Navy ships Sunday said it had taken them until then to reach evacuation points in Beirut.
"A lot of people died on those roads, so we thought it was better to stay put for a while," said Rania Hourani, 23, from Dearborn, Michigan. She had been vacationing with relatives in the village of Bint Jubail on the Israeli-Lebanese border when fighting broke out.
"You're waiting, you're scared, you don't know if you're going to die. But you have to get out because you're going to die either from starvation, fear, stress or a bomb. Thank God we're here," she said.
U.S. officials said they were evaluating ways to assist Americans' safe passage from the south.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie landed by helicopter on the deck of a ship evacuating French citizens to Cyprus Sunday, and said her country's evacuations would also be complete after one more day. Some 5,000 French nationals have been pulled out of Lebanon so far, she said.
Canada was asking its nationals stuck in south Lebanon to report to Tyre, where a European Union ship was scheduled to retrieve people Monday. A Canadian ship would arrive there Tuesday, officials said.