Algeria Gas-Plant Survivor Tells of Harrowing Escape

Liviu Floria, seven others wandered through the desert for hours

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2013 9:39 AM CST

(Newser) – Liviu Floria began his shift at the In Amenas plant last Wednesday expecting a day like any other, but the Romanian gas worker would within days find himself wandering through the desert with seven co-workers, desperate to escape the Algerian militants who had seized the facility, reports the New York Times. After seeing militants fire on security guards outside, Floria and a companion managed to evade capture while hiding under a desk for five hours. After 24 hours holed up in an office, Floria and his companion managed to team up with six others, and together decided their only option was to attempt an escape through the desert.

Under cover of darkness, the group managed to squeeze below the razor wire topping the six-foot fence surrounding the facility. They then set off toward the light of a burning gas well with only four bottles of water between them. When the sun rose, obliterating the flame's appearance, they relied on a compass app on Floria's iPhone and ultimately reached the well. Four of the men were able to make it from there to a nearby road, where they flagged down Algerian security officers. All eight men were eventually evacuated. One amazing detail: Floria thinks his early bedtime the night before the attack may have saved him; he rose early as a result, left the living area, and reached the processing facility minutes before the militants arrived.

Liviu Floria, a Romanian oil and gas industry specialist, speaks on his cell phone during an interview with the Associated Press, in Pitesti, Romania.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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