Disaster was narrowly averted when small arms fire entered the cockpit of a RAF C130 Hercules evacuating Britons and foreign nationals from Libya, it has emerged.
One round bounced off the pilot’s helmet but he was unscathed during Sunday’s rescue of oil workers. Earlier, 50 Britons and 150 foreign nationals arrived in Malta on HMS Cumberland as evacuation efforts go on. David Cameron said the UK is working to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.
The prime minister has also urged Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to “go now”, adding that the north African country had no future “that includes him”.
The BBC’s Frank Gardner confirmed details of the narrow escape during the evacuation of oil workers – 20 of whom were British – from the desert.
He said an insurgent group on the ground which fired at the C-130 plane had mistaken it for a Gaddafi regime plane. They have since apologized for the incident.
Some of those rescued described the moment the Hercules was shot at, forcing it to abandon a landing.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that one of its C130 aircraft appeared to have suffered “minor damage consistent with small arms fire”, adding that “there were no injuries to passengers or crew and the aircraft returned safely to Malta”.
On Saturday, another 150 oil workers, many of them British nationals, were rescued from the desert by two RAF Hercules and flown to the safety of Malta.
- BBC News