BEIRUT, Lebanon – A small group of U.S. Marines landed in Beirut Thursday for the first time in decades to help evacuate Americans onto a Navy ship bound for Cyprus in the second mass U.S exodus from the battle-torn country.
A group of about 40 U.S. Marines arrived at a beach just north of Beirut in a landing craft and picked up 300 Americans who they ferried to the amphibious assault ship USS Nashville just off the coast. The Nashville hopes to sail for Cyprus with about 1,000 Americans.
Some evacuees were Lebanese-Americans who had taken their children to their homeland for the first time, only to be surprised by the fighting that erupted after Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers.
Hundreds of people, some with shirts draped over their heads to protect themselves from the sun, gathered on the beach. A U.S. Embassy official, speaking through a megaphone, pleaded for patience, reassuring the crowd that all those who registered to be evacuated would be assisted.
"We are frustrated and disappointed, but we are O.K.," said Bob Elazon, an Illinois resident who complained the U.S. evacuation was badly organized.
Elazon, who left his native Lebanon 34 years ago, was with his 20-year-old daughter, Anna, who was visiting the country for the first time.