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Thousands Of Armenians Evacuated From Georgia

Hundreds of Armenians vacationing in Georgia's Black Sea resort towns of Batumi and Kobuleti are being evacuated back to Armenia, RFE/RL's Armenian Service has reported.

In Batumi, some 1,200 Armenian vacationers have left because of the fighting between Russian and Georgian forces and have returned to their homes in Armenia. An RFE/RL correspondent in Armenia's northwestern Shirak region, which borders Georgia, said hundreds of vehicles were lined up waiting to cross into Armenia.

The Armenian consul-general in Batumi, Hakob Haji Hakobian, told RFE/RL that the evacuation will continue, as many Armenians fear Russian warplanes could bomb Batumi -- the largest Georgian seaport -- as they have Poti and other Georgian cities.

Batumi and Kobuleti have in recent years become one of the most popular destinations for Armenian holidaymakers.

On August 9, Russian planes bombed another Georgian seaport, Poti, causing havoc among the civilian population fleeing the town.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry warned its citizens the same day not to travel to Georgia. There are still an estimated 3,500 Armenian citizens in Georgia that it plans to evacuate to Armenia.

The ministry also said that 850 foreigners, including diplomats stationed in Georgia and their family members, were also evacuated to Armenia. It said 130 Americans and 180 Poles have fled to Armenia and some 130 Italians are expected to arrive in Armenia on August 10.

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