Nelson man awaiting evacuation in Libya

  • Feb. 23, 2011 9:00 a.m.
John Macnab

John Macnab

A Nelson man is among the hundreds of Canadians trapped in Libya in the wake of violent protests which have engulfed the country.

At last report, mining engineer John Macnab was in a compound at the Benghazi airport, which was closed to flights. 

“We are about a 20minute walk to the runway but its like the longest mile, impossible to get to due to snipers and other lunatics,” Macnab, wrote on his Facebook wall, where he has made frequent updates since the revolt against dictator Muamma al-Gaddafi began. 

Macnab said he and others stuck at the airport had Libyan security and enough food to last about a week.

Evacuation of Canadians in the country began Wednesday, when a boatload of foreign nationals that also included British and American citizens left Libya’s capitol city, Tripoli. 

According to Dimitri Soudas, communications director for the Prime Minister’s Office, the first Canadian evacuation plane is scheduled to land in the country Thursday.

Tripoli is about 1,000 miles west of Benghazi, a journey Macnab said was “far too dangerous right now. ” However, he says the Canadian government is aware of his location, thanks to friends and family members who have emailed and called the government on his behalf.

Macnab’s Facebook postings paint a grim picture of the situation facing those trapped at the airport with him.

“Keep us in your prayers people the airport is under HEAVY MACHINE GUN FIRE,” he wrote Sunday.

“Benghazi was bombed last night by gadhafi,” he added in another update Tuesday. “City is taken over by the people and army has deserted.”

It appears Macnab had been planning to leave Libya for neighboring Tunisia when the violence began. 

More than 300 Canadians are in Libya, and about 90 of them have signaled they want to leave the country, according to national reports.