My 100mph race to get out of Libya

KIRKCALDY;'ROY BALFOUR, who has just returned from Libya'photo; WALTER NEILSON
KIRKCALDY;'ROY BALFOUR, who has just returned from Libya'photo; WALTER NEILSON
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A KIRKCALDY man has described his journey of terror as he fled from violent protests in Libya.

Roy Balfour (52) told the Press how he and his colleague were driven at high speed for almost 15 hours from the city of Benghazi to Cairo, Egypt as anti-government demonstrations, opposing the Gaddafi regime, erupted in the north African country.

The former Kirkcaldy High pupil described how the terrifying journey saw them negotiating military road checkpoints, to eventually joining thousands of Egyptian refugees desperately trying to leave the country.

Mr Balfour said he owes his life to his Libyan drivers who, at great personal risk, arranged for him and his colleague to get back to safety in Britain.

He explained how he had been working for a Libyan construction firm in Benghazi for 18 weeks, but that things turned sour when he and his colleague were suddenly asked to leave an evening function two weeks ago.


The father-of-two and his colleague, from England, were driven back to their house and became aware of a disturbance outside. He said: “We heard two people had been shot and killed.

‘‘Two days later the TV studios, which we had been soundproofing, were attacked and we were evacuated from the site.

‘‘We were taken back to the house where we waited for three nights. We could hear automatic weapon fire, heavy calibre machine guns and explosions.

‘‘We were about two miles from where the protesters were.”

While this was going on Libyan neighbours brought them food, water and even cigarettes.

Brave drivers

But soon his company opted to move the pair to a safer location outside the city before deciding they should leave the country immediately. They were provided with two drivers, a car and documentation.

He said: “We left Benghazi at 1 p.m on Wednesday and drove at over 100mph until we got to Cairo after 5 a.m the next morning.

‘‘There were roadblocks everywhere and we didn’t know what was going to happen. Some of them were manned by gunmen and we didn’t know how it was going to turn out.”

He finally made it to Cairo airport where he was able to board a flight to London Heathrow. Mr Balfour said: “I owe the drivers my life.”

His wife, Olwen, added: “We are absolutely indebted to them for ensuring Roy’s safe return.”