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Mercy Flight

East African Libya evacuees now safe in Cairo

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Feb 27, 2011

(eTN) - One-hundred-fifty-one passengers were airlifted out of Tripoli last night under what has been described as "chaotic circumstances," with navigation, ground handling, and check-in suffering from the political upheavals now witnessed across much of Libya.

The mercy flight, which was initially due to take off from Tripoli for Nairobi at 1730 hours EAT, only managed to get off the ground at 0300 hours this morning. The flight then landed in Cairo a few hours later where the crew had to take their mandatory crew rest, having literally ran out of duty hours permitted for a flight.

The airline initially expected more passengers, but it appears that not all were able to safely reach the airport in the face of sporadic fighting and the outbreak of violence within Tripoli and its surrounding areas. Those potential passengers may have judged it safer to stay put for the time being instead of risking the probably hazardous journey to the main international airport.

All passengers, from Kenya and many other East and Southern African countries, were put up in the transit lounge where they are being provided with blankets, food, and other amenities while awaiting their onward journey back home. They were not allowed by Egyptian authorities to leave the airport and, therefore, had to stay put. The aircraft, a B767-300, is now expected to touch down in Nairobi at 0630 hours on Monday morning to the undoubtedly emotional welcome by family members and friends able to receive their loved ones back unharmed and safe.

Full compliments to the crew of the flight who bravely flew into what can only be described as a civil war zone and brought their fellow citizens and many others from East Africa, Southern Africa, and even West Africa to safety. Well done and Asante Sana (Swahili for thank you very much)!

East African Libya evacuees now safe in Cairo
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