On Monday 21st Feb the KE crisis management team sprang into immediate action to devise a plan to evacuate 9 trekkers from the Acacus Mountains in southern Libya. The unrest was threatening to get worse and the Foreign Office was now advising against travel to Libya. Blissfully unaware of any world news, the trekkers continued walking, enjoying the warmth of the Saharan sun and the company of the friendly guide and camel handlers.
Our team registered the trekkers with the Foreign Office LOCATE service and started the process of communicating with Libya and the Foreign Office to safely evacuate the trekkers from the southern desert. The emails, phone calls and text messages started to peak on Tuesday when the KE team managed to get the group on the manifest for a French Military rescue flight out of Sabha, situated in the deep south-west desert, the following afternoon. However all email and telephone communication to Libya was down, with only the occasional text message getting through to our agency in Tripoli and the group were still out of signal and enjoying their holiday. Finally, on Wednesday morning a call did manage to get through from Libya and a text from a group member - they had got the message and where leaving for Sabha asap. Would they get there in time? The KE team realised that the French plane would leave without them and another plan had to be quickly hatched. KE now had communication links open with the French Government, and the French passed the group details onto the Italian Government. We still couldn't breath properly here at KE, would they get on the Italian flight on Thursday? Several further evacuation plans were in the making with options fast running out as driving was now not a safe bet, Tripoli airport was a nightmare, the border with Tunisia becoming a refugee camp....
On Thursday after hours of frustrating deadline phone calls to Libya, unanswered emails, and hours on hold to the Foreign Office we receive an unexpected and very pleasing call from Libya to say that our group were on the Italian military C-130 Hercules flight to Rome. Our guide Mohammed had seen them board the flight, and watched it leave the runway....phew.
We would like to thank all our trekkers for staying calm during what must have been some frightening hours, also to the next of kin for keeping their nerves during the several phones call that we here at KE had with them. Finally to our team in Libya who worked extremely hard for everyone and didn't leave the group to return to their families back in Tripoli.