42 Mace staff stranded in Libya escape to safety

Aaron Morby 13 years ago
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Scores of expat consultants and contractors caught up in the violent uprising in Libya have successfully fled to safety.

The Government managed to get the bulk of the last British engineers trying to leave Libya out over the weekend as three Hurcules aircraft carrying special forces led the evacuation of 150 stranded oil engineers and contractors.

It has also emerged Mace was among the UK contractors with a large contingent of staff trapped in Tripoli.

Up to 42 staff managed to flee the country over several days amid growing chaos and mounting violence in Tripoli.

The men had been working on the Bab Tarablus shopping centre and the Al Waha residential project in Tripoli for the Libyan Investment and Development Company.

According to a report in Construction Manager 10 Mott MacDonald staff got out safely last week although five local Libyan staff remained.

A dozen staff at quantity surveyor PH Warr had to lay low in Tripoli for four days before they felt it was safe enough to race to the airport to make their escape.

Richard Weeks was among 207 people from over 20 nations, on board HMS Cumberland which sailed from the second city of Benghazi.

The 64-year-old contracts manager from Sully, near Cardiff had been working on a clean water project when the security situation worsened in Libya.

The father of two said: “We were faced with looters rushing into the property where we were holed up and there was nothing we could do.

“It had been getting more risky for the 10 days before and there was no prospect of it easing.”

A British construction manager who safely returned to Birmingham last Thursday said he narrowly escaped death as he fled by car for the Egyptian border.

Paul Lynch, 54, was shot at as a violent mob attacked a building site where he and a fellow Brit were overseeing construction of a luxury hotel and penthouse for Colonel Gaddafi’s second son Saif, near the city of Tobruk.

He said:  “Cars raced up to our compound. Men were hanging out of the windows firing rifles into the air.

“Within minutes, the site was full of cars tearing around in circles, with men shooting guns and screaming anti-Gaddafi chants. They saw the building we were working on as belonging to the government and a target to be attacked.”

Luckily Lynch was spotted by a policeman and doctor he knew who spirited both men away as looters swarmed over the site.

His ordeal continued right up to the Eqyptian border where the car the men were using to escape was stopped at a rebel checkpoint and surrounded by gunmen hunting the mercenaries Gaddafi is using to massacre rebels.

“The rebel cocked his gun and I thought, ‘This is it. This is where my life ends.’

“I still don’t know what was said, but he let us through,” said Lynch. “One second I was certain I was going to be executed, the next we were heading for safety.

“It was a moment I’ll never forget for as long as I live.”

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