Wales

Welsh oilmen tell of Libya rescue by British forces

Two oil workers from south Wales have told how British forces rescued them from Libya.

Marsden Sims, 63, a civil engineer from Tonyrefail, was among 218 British and foreign nationals taken to Malta on board HMS Cumberland on Monday.

He said looters had targeted his works compound at Messla.

Another man, Darren Symons, from Cardiff, was flown out by the SAS, and he described them as "absolutely exceptional".

Mr Symons, who was working in an oil field several hours from Tripoli, said: "We had a phone call Saturday morning at 10 o'clock to say just get your basic essentials and we'd be picked up at 11 o' clock, by whom we didn't know."

He said he and colleagues were taken to a desert camp where an RAF Hercules was waiting for them to board.

Mr Symons was one of 154 people flown out.

He added: "We didn't realise who they were, we just thought they were British forces of some sort, but as it came to light they were actual SAS, special forces."

Mr Symons said: "These guys are exceptional, absolutely exceptional - just made us feel at ease basically and flew us back to Malta and got us out of the danger."

Meanwhile, HMS Cumberland arrived in Malta on Monday.

On board was Marsden Sims, who said in a statement released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD): "I was about eight hours south of Benghazi working in the oil fields.

"We didn't have direct trouble to begin with but when word spread from the TV reports things got quite agitated.

"We were in one works compound at Messla and a few nights ago we saw looters outside taking vehicles and equipment."

Image caption Darren Symons described the SAS rescuers as 'absolutely exceptional'

Mr Sims said looters set fire to a reading room in his compound.

He added: "Our regional manager decided to evacuate, so we were bussed out on Thursday.

"We missed the first passage on Cumberland but we're really glad of transport now.

"Where we were it seemed relatively safe but then we didn't have the ability to predict what would happen later.

'Tremendously difficult'

"I hope to return to work when the situation is calmer."

Able Seaman Stefan Morgan, 22, from Llanharan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, helped Mr Sims aboard HMS Cumberland.

In a statement issued by the MoD, he said: "It's a pleasure to help out. These people and the people before have had to flee their work and their homes so it must be tremendously difficult.

"We've done our bit and hopefully they can resume their lives as soon as possible."

On Monday, governments around the world condemned attacks on Libyan civilians.

The EU has imposed sanctions including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Libyan authorities, including leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Tens of thousands of migrants - many from Egypt - are stranded near Libya's Tunisian border, UN officials say.

Unrest continues in and around Tripoli, with a demonstration against Col Gaddafi in the capital's suburb of Tajoura, with protesters chanting: "The blood of martyrs won't go to waste."

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Libya had "failed shamefully in its responsibilities to its people".

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites