Oil worker trapped in Libya tells Cameron to hurry

By James Cook
Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

Image caption,
Jim Coyle said there was poor sanitation, a shortage of fresh water and limited supplies of food

A Scottish oil worker trapped in a desert camp in Libya with hundreds of other foreign nationals has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to "stop dragging your heels" and organise a rescue.

Jim Coyle, from Erskine, Renfrewshire, told BBC News that up to 40 German workers had been airlifted to safety but about 700 staff including an estimated 100 Britons remained in the camp.

He said they were in fear of their lives as men were "running around with AK-47s".

Conditions were "very, very bad," he said, with poor sanitation, a shortage of fresh water and limited supplies of food.

Mr Coyle said he had provided the Foreign Office with the latitude and longitude co-ordinates of his camp which was, he said, near a large airstrip.

He demanded to know why Mr Cameron was not doing more to get them out, saying he feared they were running out of time and options.

Speaking on a poor quality internet link, a clearly frustrated Mr Coyle had this message for the prime minister: "Stop dragging your heels.

"I wish you were here face-to-face with me and then you would realise the situation we are all in."

He insisted that it was not just Britons in the camp who should be rescued but Bangladeshis, Indians, Thais and Filipinos as well.

"They are all frightened and terrified," he said.

"Me and the rest of the guys are trying to hold them all together.

"But it's very hard, it's very hard to keep morale up when every day goes by and they keep asking when are the planes coming, when are the planes coming?"

Mr Coyle, who is employed by OPS International, said there was no sign of any aeroplanes arriving, nor was there any indication of a plan for their rescue.

'Be assured'

"Without worrying everyone," he said, "we're worried.

"I'm having to constantly calm guys down.

"Hygiene is basically out the window. This is now going into six days.

"All we are asking is be quick, very quick, come and get us out."

He said a flight had landed yesterday at the camp to evacuate workers for a German company.

"They used our runway, they got out. If they can do it, why can't our British government do it?"

Responding to Mr Coyle's interview, the Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The people in his situation are uppermost in our thoughts and a great deal of time and effort in Whitehall today has been going into what the options are to help these people," he said.

"We do fully realise there are people in his situation who can't leave and who are stuck there in the desert so he can at least be assured that a great deal of work is going on on this.

"It would not be in his interests or anyone's interests for me to discuss in detail what the options would be."

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