Last U.S. flight takes hostages from Baghdad 5 Kuwait diplomats, 27 other Americans arrive in Germany

December 14, 1990|By ASSOCIATD PRESS

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A final evacuation flight landed in Germany yesterday carrying the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait and his staff, who survived a 110-day Iraqi siege of their embassy by living on tuna fish and swimming pool water.

The five U.S. diplomats from Kuwait were among 32 Americans on the Iraqi Airways flight from Baghdad to Germany, the State Department said.

The flight was the final U.S. charter evacuating hostages and was said to be the last chartered by any country. Officials in Baghdad said all foreigners who missed the charter could leave later by regular flights or by ground transportation.

U.S. officials said just one former American "human shield" remained behind. He was identified as Gary O'Conner of Humble, Texas. Officials said that he would go to Basra, Iraq, to finalize his business and would leave Iraq at a later date.

Ambassador Nathaniel Howell, looking thinner from the ordeal and his gray hair longer, told reporters on arrival in Frankfurt that his staff left the embassy "with the flag flying."

"We're very happy to be here. We're delighted that Americans who wanted to leave did," he said.

Asked whether the embassy staff had endured, as reported, a diet of tuna sandwiches, Mr. Howell dead panned: "No, the bread ran out."

The 50-year-old diplomat declined to speak at length, explaining that "we haven't had electricity and water, hot water, at night for 110 days. So, we're going to take advantage of that."

The passengers were booked into a luxury hotel near the airport. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said they would fly to Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon.

The Americans included 23 private U.S. citizens, the five-member Kuwaiti mission staff and four U.S. officials who joined the flight in Baghdad, Ms. Tutwiler said in Washington. They were among 96 foreigners aboard, she said.

Mr. Howell, his deputy chief of mission, Barbara Bodine, and three other U.S. diplomats in Kuwait left their embassy early yesterday and flew to Baghdad and then Frankfurt aboard an Iraqi Airways plane.

A U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said that the compound in Kuwait was left unstaffed but open and that Iraqi authorities had pledged it would not be disturbed.

Before yesterday's flight, 188 Americans had been evacuated from Iraq and Kuwait in the past week. U.S. officials estimate that 500 Americans -- most of them children with dual citizenship -- remained.

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