Lancashire

Oil worker thanks SAS for Libyan desert rescue mission

An oil worker from Lancashire has paid tribute to the SAS forces who airlifted him to safety from the Libyan desert.

Peter Dingle from Fleetwood was working for a German oil company in a remote location south of Bengazi.

As anti-Gaddafi protests grew more threatening, Mr Dingle and his colleagues barricaded themselves in until help arrived.

Special forces using two RAF Hercules transporters picked up 140 civilians, mostly Britons, in a dramatic rescue.

"Everyone was overjoyed when it arrived," he said.

"We stayed on the runway for two hours because we found out that some other guys were travelling across the desert in vehicles when they heard the plane had arrived.

'Bloodbath'

"The SAS weren't prepared to leave without them," he said.

"They did an absolutely marvellous job and it was great to see them."

The operation to fly RAF Hercules plans deep into the African state to carry out the rescue mission was kept a close secret.

The rescued Britons were picked up and flown to Malta before being transferred to the UK.

Mr Dingle said that the security situation in Benghazi had deteriorated rapidly with gangs of looters closing in on their compound.

"Obviously, we knew what was going on in Benghazi which, apparently, was a bloodbath," he said.

"Up to a 1,000 people were dead and right in the area where we were working there were looters and robbers - these guys have guns and knives so, yeah, a little bit scary."

British nationals still in Libya are being urged to make their way to Benghazi to meet HMS York.

The Royal Navy destroyer is on its way to the second city to pick up any remaining UK citizens who wish to leave.

The Prime Minister said on Monday there are thought to be fewer than 150 Britons remaining in Libya and only a "very small proportion" of those wanted to go.

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