Ivory Coast Evacuations Continue; Lack of Electricity, Water Sparks Concern

France and other Western nations flew out hundreds of their nationals in a second wave of evacuations, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Meanwhile, relief agencies have warned that the lack of safe drinking water could spark epidemics as the north has been without electricity and running water since last week.

Ivory Coast Evacuations Continue; Lack of ElectricMore than 400 European nationals who took refuge at the Golf hotel are evacuated by French soldiers in Abidjan. The first of four flights evacuating French and other European nationals from violence-torn Ivory Coast left Abidjan for Paris.(AFP/Pascal Guyo

With some 14,000 citizens in the nation, France sent helicopters Wednesday to pick up trapped foreigners from villages and bring them to Abidjan's international airport, crowded with frightened families waiting for flights out.

According to AP, France's first 900 evacuees arrived in Paris late Wednesday, with more flights leaving today. Belgium, Canada, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Nations have also organized planes, while Britain has sent a Royal British Gurkha Rifles company to neighboring Ghana to support evacuations of Britons.

The five days of violent upheaval, which began Saturday when Ivory Coast warplanes killed nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker, has claimed at least 27 lives and wounded more than 1,000, AP reported. Ivory Coast presidential spokesman Alain Toussaint said that 37 loyalists had died.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Children's Fund warned Thursday that lack of safe drinking water could spark epidemics as the north has been without electricity and running water since last week. Authorities in the south are believed to have cut power in rebel-held areas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reminded all parties in the Ivory Coast that the civilian population must be protected in all circumstances from the effects of the ongoing conflict and has called on them to take action to restore normal electricity and water supply throughout the country as a matter of urgency.

Since the onset of conflict in the Ivory Coast the ICRC has provided the Ivorian water-supply network with materials needed for its operation.

In addition to ICRC