Returning Brits describe chaos in Libya

by Tiffany Millar on February 25, 2011

As the UK government’s Libya rescue mission finally swung into action yesterday, Brits returning home have described terror and chaos in the turbulent country. As the escalating uprising continues in violence, those back on home soil said thousands were forced to endure unsanitary conditions while trying to flee the country.

The first flight arrived at Gatwick Airport yesterday with 79 passengers aboard. Those brought home on the BP-chartered aircraft said buildings in Libya’s capital were ablaze and gunfire could be heard around the airport. They added that thousands were still waiting in cramped conditions to be evacuated.

A further 24 people arrived in London last night before a flight with 177 adults and four children touched down. Chartered by the Foreign Office, the second flight left Tripoli early on Thursday morning and stopped briefly in Malta on the way back to the UK.

As well as the overcrowded conditions inside Tripoli Airport, those evacuated described how they waited for hours in hail and rain as the city was hit by its worst weather conditions in years. According to some reports, the Libran riot police were also trying to keep people from entering the busy airport.

More people were rescued from Benghazi aboard the HMS Cumberland frigate, with Capt Steve Dainton saying that many passengers relayed stories of violence and terror. The Army and the UK’s Special Forces are also on hand in the country, ready to step in if 170 trapped oil workers need to be evacuated.

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