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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Scots family try to flee Lebanon
Andy and Fiona Gleeson
The couple have been married five years
A family from Scotland is caught up with tens of thousands of people trying to flee the fighting in Lebanon.

Fiona Gleeson, from Lewis, husband Andy and daughters Christina Louise, four, and Bethany, two, were in Nabatiyeh close to the Israeli border.

In a phone call to her mother, Christina Fell, on Wednesday, Mrs Gleeson said they had reached Beirut.

The family are now among 20,000 evacuees waiting for emergency transport to Cyprus.

Mr Gleeson, 42, a military bomb disposal expert of 23 years, was working for a private mine clearing company in Lebanon following a stint in Iraq.

His wife and daughters joined him in Nabatiyeh last week. Just days after their arrival the fighting started.

They are under terrible strain. They don't know what's happening, or when the next bomb will come
Christina Fell

Mrs Fell has travelled from Lewis in the Western Isles to the Gleeson's home in Inverness to wait for more news.

Surrounded by pictures of the couple and their children, Mrs Fell told of the stress the family were under and the anxiety of waiting for calls.

She said: "We've had word from Fiona that they have moved themselves from their hotel and made their way to the docks in Beirut because they had not been getting feedback from the British Embassy.

"They are under terrible strain. They don't know what's happening, or when the next bomb will come.

"They are now at the docks and they will be told whether they are going to get across or not today.

"At the moment they are going to have to wait six hours at the docks."

Mrs Fell said her daughter and son-in-law had been "frustrated" by the efforts of the British Embassy in Lebanon.

She said Mrs Gleeson had thought they would be a priority case because of the couple's young daughters.

"They were backwards and forwards from the embassy and they were told the same everyday - to lie low and be calm," said Mrs Fell.

"When you are in fear, things are a lot more intense and you want things to happen quicker."

Andy Gleeson and youngest daughter Bethany
Andy Gleeson and youngest daughter Bethany

Mrs Fell said her son-in-law's experiences serving with the Royal Logistics Corps, including postings to Northern Ireland, had given him "nerves of steel".

She said: "It is a help to his wife he is able to reassure them properly and tell them they will get out safely."

However, the grandmother said the tension in Beirut had left her daughter, and the family waiting back home, terrified.

She said: "It's quite frightening for them especially my daughter who has not seen or heard things like that so is very concerned for their lives and for the children.

"Bombs are going off around about them."

As well as her daughter, Mrs Fell has spoken to Christina Louise.

She said: "I spoke to the oldest one, who is four.

"But children will be children - they don't actually realise there is a danger attached to where they are.

"She is quite aware that there is something going on that wasn't in their lives before and is feeling kind of upset that their mother is upset."

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