The Last Plane out; Final Flight Carries Last Brits in Libya to Safety as Gaddafi Arms Militia for Civil War

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), February 27, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Last Plane out; Final Flight Carries Last Brits in Libya to Safety as Gaddafi Arms Militia for Civil War


Byline: BEN SPENCER

THE final rescue flight for Brits fleeing Libya touched down at Gatwick airport last night as the country hurtled closer to civil war.

The plane carrying about 100 people, including 53 Britons, arrived from stricken Tripoli at 10pm.

It was part of a massive evacuation from the country by land, sea and air.

They scrambled to get out as embattled Colonel Gaddafi threw open his arsenal of weapons to civilian militia.

Many of those on board the mercy flight were working in the North African country's oil industry.

One of them, 45-year-old James Munro, from Elgin, Moray, said the camp he was staying in escaped problems but many others were not so lucky.

He said: "We were stuck in the desert so one of the biggest problems was getting out of there.

"When we were eventually given a place on a plane this morning we were given 10 minutes to pack our bags. There were only three seats available.

"There are still guys out there because there isn't a plane for them."

James revealed the chaos he saw once he reached Tripoli.

He said: "The airport is filthy and there are hundreds, thousands, sitting outside and inside the airport.

"Fighting broke out and it's really chaotic. We were quite lucky because we were from the UK. They didn't waste much time getting us out."

Accountant Taqi Mir, 57, from London, said: "I'm euphoric to be back. I just feel so lucky to have got on that last flight."

Stafffrom the British Embassy in Tripoli were also on board the Government chartered f light after their operations were suspended.

Earlier, 116 people, including 68 Britons, flew from Malta to Gatwick after escaping Libya on board HMS Cumberland.

And two RAF Hercules planes evacuated more than 150 civilians from desert locations south of Benghazi to Malta.

Allan Lamont, 58, from Inverness, was among the rescued. He had been working on at project to bring water to Libya from an underground reserve.

He said: "I'm sad to be leaving but with all the conflict I can't help but fear it will hamper what we are trying to do there."

Allan added: "The Navy were fantastic.

They did everything - far more than you would expect when you're in such a difficult situation. …

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