A POCKLINGTON man has spoken of his relief after escaping from riot-torn Libya.
Father-of-two Don Goodwin, of Canal Lane, witnessed gun shots being fired and innocent people being hit by soldiers as he frantically tried to flee the country.
The 67-year-old, who has worked in the construction business in Libya for 14 years, made three desperate attempts to escape before finally catching a plane to safety as chaos continues to sweep the African country. The uprising against Colonel Gaddafi’s government was triggered last month with protesters calling for him to step down.
Mr Goodwin was reunited with his wife Rosie Pressland who was “very relieved” to see him safe and well.
He managed to get on a flight to Warsaw and then on a flight to Paris before catching another plane to Manchester.
He said: “When the plane took off from Libya everyone cheered and clapped. Everybody was very relieved.”
While Mr Goodwin tried to get a flight out of Libya he said the airport in Tripoli was extremely congested and many Egyptian workers were stood under the shelter near the entrance of the airport which stopped other people from getting through.
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At the time there was a severe thunderstorm which made the situation even more difficult.
Mr Goodwin said he heard gun shots being fired while he was there and saw soldiers hitting people with batons.
He said: “At some stage shots were fired and the Egyptians were moved out of the shelter and there were also soldiers and security people with batons beating the Egyptians as they ran away.
“I think they were just overhead shots to make the Egyptians move. There were no signs of ambulances afterwards so no one was hit.
“This was our worse time because in order to get out of the line of shooting we went back towards the fence and the fence was towards the trees and above was the thunder and lightning.
“So with the crowds, the thunder and lightning and being wet threw to the skin and cold it was exceptionally difficult at that time and frightening.”
The day before Mr Goodwin left Libya he had a ticket to fly out of the country but decided not to travel to the airport because there was a curfew in Tripoli, while he had also heard shooting on the streets.
The next day he had hoped to get a flight to Gatwick but there was no sign of the plane, so when the opportunity came to get on a flight to Warsaw he took it without hesitation.
He said: “The plane from Gatwick had taken off at three but wasn’t there by nine. The Polish embassy said their plane had landed so I stuck my hand up straight away and flew to Warsaw.”
Despite chaos engulfing the country as protestors push to overthrow Colonal Gaddafi’s regime, Mr Goodwin says he never felt in danger.
He said: “I didn’t particularly feel threatened. Not directly. Indirectly, we could hear noise on the streets at night and there was shooting and horns going. Difficult to say whether they were celebrating or actually fighting but in my opinion they were celebrating. This was soon after Gaddafi’s speech so these were Gaddafi supporters who were coming out in force to say ‘we support you’.”
In a twist of fate, the couple’s Chilean future son-in-law, Eric Godoy, was supposed to be working at another Libyan construction camp, but was away on holiday when violence broke out in the country. He is now in Pocklington trying to co-ordinate the rescue of 200 friends and colleagues still stranded in Libya.
Earlier this week world foreign ministers condemned attacks on Libyan civilians and the European Union imposed sanctions including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Colonel Gaddafi and his close entourage.
Col Gaddafi is facing a massive challenge to his 41-year rule, with protesters in control of towns in the east.