Escape from Tripoli: Surviving Libya’s ‘Tsunami’

Time has just published my story on the evacuees from Libya.

Standing inside Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport on Tuesday, Cyrus Sany, 41, was waiting to make a connection to Washington, D.C. Dressed in an untucked white-and-blue dress shirt and pale jeans, the American systems engineer had a few days’ growth of beard on his face. He flipped through the pages of his passport, which was filled with Libyan visas. He had been in Libya for his 28th time when the call came to evacuate. He was there to modernize three of the country’s ports, but his company, Delex Systems, a Virginia-based contractor, said, “Put your pencil down. Get to the airport.”

“In three days, a beautiful country with great opportunities was thrown into chaos,” Sany said. The uprising came without warning, turning the country upside down. “It was like a tsunami,” he said. “It happened in a couple of minutes. This city [the Libyan capital of Tripoli] that was alive like New York is now dead.” Shops closed up. The streets emptied. A crowded hookah bar, which Sany had patronized, was devoid of customers. “The businesses vanished,” he said. “It was like a bunch of plastic chairs and that’s it.”

Read the rest.