Louth-area man who escaped Algerian hostage crisis just wanted to stay at home with his family
THE brave Louth-area man who trekked across the desert to escape militants in the Algerian hostage crisis is believed to have only just arrived there when the terrorists took over the desert gas plant.
BP engineering team leader Lou Fear, 56, of Tathwell, near Louth, managed to escape the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists who took hold of the Amenas gas plant in Algeria on Thursday.
The four-day crisis ended on Sunday after troops mounted an assault on the complex and, so far, more than 80 people are believed to have been killed.
The number includes 48 hostages, including three British nationals and 32 militants, who claimed they were taking action in retaliation for French intervention in Mali – but many remain unaccounted for.
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Mr Fear, who helped build the gas plant in 2004, has now been flown back to the UK and reunited with his wife Lori and their children, Anna-Victoria, 21, and Richard, 23.
Mrs Fear told a national newspaper: "I'm just relieved to have my husband back. He's very traumatised."
A neighbour told the Grimsby Telegraph that she was talking to Mr Fear in Lodge Lane, Tathwell – where they both live – just days before the crisis shocked the international community.
Gwen Powell said: "I often see Mr Fear when we are out walking our dogs down the lane and I remember speaking to him about the prospect of snow, just before it came.
"He was telling me how he hoped his flight would be cancelled and he could stay at home with his family.
"They are very nice people and I was so glad to hear that he was OK."
Mr Fear had tried to help the wounded when the raid began, then he and a handful of colleagues hid while terrorists searched for them.
Knowing they would soon be found, they made a desperate bid to flee and escaped through holes cut in the fencing. The group trekked through intense heat in the day and freezing cold temperatures through the night, with no food or water, in the hope of reaching the nearest town, Amenas – 15 miles away.
After 20 hours, they were picked up by an Algerian Army patrol and The Great Escape – as it has been dubbed by colleagues – was complete.
Mr Fear told a national newspaper: "The guys who picked us up were wonderful, they were like long-lost friends.
"They kept saying, 'The terrorists did not come from Algeria'."
Louth's Eastgate Union Church – which Lou and Lori regularly attend – held special prayers for him.
A spokesman added: "We are delighted that he is free and was not injured – our prayers have been answered."
Jean Howard, who knows the family from church in Tathwell, said: "I knew that he worked abroad but had no idea that he was involved in all of this until yesterday.
"We never expected that someone from our tiny village would be caught up in such an international crisis.
"It is fantastic news that he escaped uninjured."