Middle East

Libya unrest: Last UK rescue plane arrives in Tripoli

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Media captionThousands of people continue to flee from Libya

The final rescue flight on which Britons can escape from Libya has touched down at Tripoli airport.

The government-chartered Boeing 737 has 148 seats - there are thought to be about 50 UK nationals in the city.

It is not certain how long the plane will be able to remain at the airport.

Foreign Secretary William Hague had earlier urged all Britons in Tripoli to go to the airport. Efforts are also continuing to rescue 200-300 British oil workers in remote locations.

Britons who had managed to reach Benghazi and leave Libya on HMS Cumberland have arrived at Gatwick airport.

Alan Burnett, a surveyor, said: "We went through a horrific time. Our camp was raided by a marauding gang. If it wasn't nailed down they were taking it, laptops, whatever.

"You couldn't argue with five or six people with machetes. I'm not going to criticise the government, they may have been late but the response when it happened was excellent."

Marilyn Sterry told BBC News that her son Kyle, an oil worker, had reached safety in Tunisia with a group of his colleagues.

They had driven to the border from their base in the desert after their company's efforts to evacuate them by air met with failure.

"We had been very concerned" she said.

"I've heard a lot of criticism of the Foreign Office but I have to say the people we spoke to have been very helpful, although they obviously didn't have much information to give back to us."

"But it got to the point that Kyle and his colleagues couldn't wait any more because of the escalation of the violence in Tripoli, and them not knowing how that would spread out."

Mr Hague said: "There are now very few British nationals remaining in Tripoli."

With regards to those stranded in desert locations, Mr Hague added: "We are doing a lot of work on how we can help them. We can't say anything more about that at the moment."

Protesters have faced heavy gunfire in Tripoli as Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has defied calls to stand down.

Fighting has raged for the past week between anti-government forces and pro-Gaddafi troops and militiamen in towns and cities outside the capital.

Since Thursday, Britons have arrived back in the UK on four FCO-chartered flights and one chartered by oil company BP.

Some 49 British nationals also departed on a US ferry from Tripoli harbour.

The government's emergency committee Cobra met on Saturday to discuss the ongoing efforts to get UK nationals out of Libya.

The FCO, which is advising against all but essential travel to Libya, said it had directly helped about 450 British nationals to leave Libya so far, and facilitated the departure of another 150.

Downing Street said the prime minister had spoken to a number of other European leaders about the situation and had agreed that urgent measures were required, including a tough sanctions package targeting the regime directly.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "There was clear agreement that the actions of the Libyan regime were totally unacceptable and that brutality and intimidation would not be tolerated."

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander called attention to the oil workers still stranded in the country and urged the prime minister to make a statement to the Commons on Monday.

Meanwhile, anti-Gaddafi protesters demonstrated outside the Libyan embassy in London. Among them were members of the radical Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

They waved placards calling for a return to what the demonstrators called the Islamic way of life.

Image caption Protesters outside the Libyan embassy in London

Nazim Ghani, a 40 year old Bangladeshi doctor living in east London said: "We want to see the end of these regimes in the Muslim world.

"We want to see real independence and the only way that will come is with a new Islamic system."

The numbers for British nationals to call about charter flights out of Libya are 020 7008 0000 from the UK or 021 340 3644/45 from Libya.

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