Irish citizen Don Getty pretended to be Turkish to escape the bloodbath in Libya – and it worked.
The Canadian born Meath resident escaped the rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi thanks to some quick thinking at Tripoli airport.
As thousands of people tried to force their way into the airport building, Getty swapped nationalities
Now resident in the Meath town of Oldcastle, oil industry worked Getty had only arrived in Libya on February 15th for his latest six week shift.
Having watched his Libyan colleagues flee their oil plant when the riots hit Tripoli, Getty decided to head for the airport.
“They just opened the doors when I got there and said: ‘Only Turkish citizens may enter.’ And I said, ‘I’m from Turkey’ and I walked right in,” he told the Irish Independent.
“It was like there was a concert on and the airport was the stage. It was madness; people were pushing and shoving to get in.
“The airport is chaos. There are thousands and thousands of people who have no arrangements in place to get them out. They are there only in the hope a miracle will happen.
“Just getting inside the airport has taken some up to 12 hours. Once inside no one will leave. This adds to the pandemonium, just too many people in the building and very few are moving out of it on flights.”
Getty had only arrived back in Libya two weeks ago and last week his wife contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs who advised him to make his way to the airport immediately.
“It was bad timing when I came back, no kidding,” he added.
“Everything was normal until that Thursday. Within two days it was full-on. I thought, at first, that I could ride it out, but when the fighting hit Tripoli that’s when we got scared.
“I was getting scared. I was going to bed at night and hearing the artillery and gunfire going off. People were driving by in cars shooting.”
Unlike some Irish citizens who have fled Libya, Getty only had words of praise for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“I applaud the Government for their efforts. If not for that message from the department, I would still be there,” he confirmed.
Efforts are still ongoing to help the remaining Irish citizens in Libya flee the country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says 100 Irish passport holders have been aided in their escape from the anti-Gaddafi riots.