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BP, Foreign Workers Evacuated from Algeria

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UK PM: In Amenas Hostage Crisis 'Ongoing'

BP reported Friday that 11 of its employees had been evacuated from Algeria, alongside several hundred staff from other companies with operations in Algeria, on board three flights that left Algeria Thursday, the company said in a statement released 10:45 GMT.

Meanwhile, foreign workers who had managed to escape their captors amid an attack on the facility by the Algerian armed forces have begun to leave the country.

The first flight arrived in London Thursday afternoon, while the second two flights landed in Palma, Majorca overnight. BP said it expected the staff aboard the planes to transfer on to final destinations over the course of the day.

A fourth plane is expected to transport further staff out of Algeria Friday, and BP will arrange further flights as needed.

The current location and situation of a small number of BP employees after the attack at the In Amenas facility remains uncertain, BP commented.

"BP is working with the Algerian government and authorities to confirm their status," said BP, noting that it would not publicly comment on the details of the number, nationalities or identifies of these staff members.

"Supporting our colleagues and their families at a time of extreme concern is essential, and we are seeking to support them in every way we can," said BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley in a press statement.

The nine Statoil employees who had been located at the In Amenas facility have been brought to safety, said Lars Christian Bacher, Statoil's executive vice president of development and production international, in a statement released Friday at 7:20 p.m. (Norwegian time).

One of the nine Statoil employees that had been brought to safety has been evacuated from In Amenas and has received medical treatment. That worker is en route to Norway by air ambulance. The three Statoil employees from Algeria have arrived in Algiers; Statoil is following up with them locally. Additionally, the five employees who made it to safety early in the incident are headed to Norway by plane.

"Unfortunately, the situation remains unclear for eight of our employees following the terrorist attack on the In Amenas facility," Statoil reported in a statement, noting that an ongoing military operation by Algerian authorities is restricting the flow of information and rescue efforts.

Statoil is working to bring aircraft and medical equipment as close to In Amenas as possible to allow rescue and evacuation to take place as efficiently as possible, Bacher commented.

The company is also working to support the families of workers still unaccounted for. All families have their own contact person at Statoil, as well as access to professional health care and other assistance from Statoil and the Norwegian authorities.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced in his statement Friday (at 11 a.m. UK time) that while 30 UK workers had been at risk during the crisis, the number at risk has now been "significantly reduced".

However, despite Thursday's attack by the Algerian armed forces, the hostage crisis remains "ongoing", a UK Foreign Office spokesman was quoted as saying early Friday. The Algerian state-run news service APS said that militants were still holding foreign workers at the plant and that local officials had reported two Britons and two Filipinos killed. The militants had claimed to have taken 41 foreign workers prisoner.

Five U.S. citizens survived the attack and have left the country, ABC News reported early Friday.The Irish government confirmed late Thursday that one of its citizens is safe.

Japanese officials have been cited that at least 14 Japanese nationals (working for construction firm JGC Corp.) were still missing, with three safe.

Japan said it had formed a task force to gather real-time information about developments connected to the hostage crisis.

"Concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals in Algeria, upon receiving the report at 1650 local time today, I gave instructions to strengthen information-gathering measures in Algeria, to place the maximum safety priority on their lives, and to make the utmost efforts to save and secure the safety of the Japanese nationals," Japan's Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, said Thursday via a statement posted on the Ministry's website.

The Philippine government also disclosed Thursday that more than 20 of its nationals were among the foreign hostages captured by Islamist gunmen.

Undersecretary Raul Hernandez said a Filipino hostage, along with a Japanese national, had escaped the area before Algerian forces launched a rescue operation, Singapore's ChannelNewsAsia reported late Thursday.

"He (the Filipino national) is on the way to Algiers for treatment of his wounds," Hernandez said, declining to provide further details.

On Thursday, a Mauritanian news agency quoted a spokesman for the militants as saying that some 35 hostages and 15 militants had been killed in the attack on the In Amenas facility by Algerian armed forces.

Meanwhile, in its monthly market report released Friday the International Energy Agency said that the kidnapping of the foreign workers at In Amenas had cast "a dark cloud" over the outlook for the country's energy sector.



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