Teacher trapped in Libyan chaos

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A TEACHER from Ravenshead is among hundreds of Britons who were left trapped in Libya amid increasing chaos and violence.

Paul Stealey is reported to have been among workers facing gangs of armed looters at a compound in the desert in Al Brega, around 500 miles east of Tripoli.

The 58-year-old was thought to have been considering a way out on Sunday as a Royal Navy frigate docked 150 miles along the coast to pick up fleeing Britons.

Mr Stealey is believed to work for the Sirte Oil Company teaching English to Libyan oil workers.

On Saturday the Daily Mail newspaper quoted him as saying: “The advice from the embassy was to stay where we are. There has been no option to leave.

“Communications with home have been terrible and that’s upset people a little bit.

“We have now been told there will be a chance to leave on Sunday when HMS Cumberland comes back to Benghazi.

“We would have to get up to Benghazi and, from there, the Navy would take us to Malta. “We’ve not been told what would happen to us from there.”

On Monday his mother Irene Stealey, of Ravenshead, said: “I haven’t heard from him in the last couple of days and I know there has been trouble there and people have been concerned about him, but as far as I know he’s ok.

“I don’t know whether he’s out just yet but he was due to be home by Wednesday.”

She added her son had been working in the country for several years and made visits home on leave.

There have been reports of gunfire from rival groups of thieves at the compound as the north African country’s leader comes under increasing international pressure to quit.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s military regime is facing collapse after 42 years in power.

Chaos broke out in some cities earlier this month after protesters opposing the state were reportedly met with violence. Hundreds are said to have been killed.

The resulting anarchy has left foreigners trapped across the country as the two sides struggle to gain control.

On Sunday HMS Cumberland left Libya for Malta with 200 civilians, of which around 50 were British, after making a second visit to Benghazi. It is not yet known whether Mr Stealey was aboard.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said he could not discuss individual cases but was making sure Mr Stealey was among a list of British nationals the Government is working to rescue.

Said the spokesman: “We believe the vast majority of Britons who wanted to leave Libya have now done so.

“We think there are a very small number of people who remain and where we can identify those who want to leave we will take measures to assist them.”

No-one from the Sirte Oil Company could be reached for comment.