I am touched by all the people who have reached out over the last two days, here on the blog, over twitter and by email. Your support means alot and helps me keep it together.
My dad’s day has been pretty long and, I imagine, pretty stressful. The car to take him to the airport was delayed by an hour – there were road blocks and diversions which made it difficult to cross the city. He did manage to get to the airport before 10am and I was on the phone with him when he said he saw the Canadian consular officials and said he would go let them know he was a part of their group. I spoke with him a couple more times after that while they were waiting outside to be let into the airport. Apparently there were groups of people outside the airport and they were taking it in turn to go in, based on the order of take off for their respective planes.
The Canadian evacuation plane was due to take off at 2pm local time. Unfortunately at about 1130 a report was made that the flight had been grounded in Rome due to the plane’s insurers backing out. I’m not entirely sure I believe this since the company from which the plane was chartered was Skylink – their website claims
for over 25 years in over 60 countries, SkyLink has delivered assistance and support services to the most hostile and remote areas in the world. In difficult environments where other companies cannot or will not operate, we have and will. Only SkyLink has the experience, local knowledge, creativity, local contacts and partnerships to provide the solutions you need. Every time. Anywhere.
Yes, every time anywhere, except this time in Libya. Very disappointing and frustrating to say the least. I find it bizarre that an aviation company specialising in emergency services in hostile areas would have their insurance company revoke their insurance. Their entire company is based on this service so it really doesn’t add up that this would be a problem with their insurance. I called them (oh yes, I’m a demon with the telephone) and someone at Skylink told me that it wasn’t their insurance that was the problem, that the issue was with the Canadian government. Whatever, the bottom line was that there was no plane. My dad, and 200+ other Canadians were at the airport, with another few thousand people, waiting to leave on a plane that never came. At least they are with consular officials, and they are all together.
There is a curfew in Tripoli – no one on the streets between 6pm and 6am, so everyone is holed up in the airport where there is no cell reception. The reports are now that Canada is sending a C-17 plane from Rome (diverted via South Africa? Not sure, this info is from my mom) to Tripoli. The C-17 seats 102 people. The last communication from the emergency bureau was that there are 213 Canadians waiting at the airport to be evacuated. There is another report that a second charter plane is being sent by a friendly Middle Eastern country with the express intention of evacuating Canadians (and I also assume whoever else they can fit on the plane). This is reported to be due to land in Tripoli at 2am.
Just got a call from my mom – my dad managed to get through to her to let her know he is on a plane bound for Gatwick! I’m guessing it is the Afriqiyah flight that lands at midnight or 2am… HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF. I hope that lots of the others waiting were able to get on a plane too.
I am now off to have a shower and brush my teeth, which with all this hoo-ha i have neglected to do. Thank goodness I’ve spent the whole day with just my dog, who can always be counted on to have worse breath than I do and not care if mine could kill a horse.