Hawaii teacher awaits rescue in Lebanon
Bombs had exploded within 500 yards of her Lebanese relatives' home
The Big Island teacher who is one of thousands of Americans trapped in Lebanon was anxiously awaiting her evacuation yesterday as the week-old battle between Israel and Hezbollah continued to pummel the country.
"We're a little bit nervous about the trip ahead. Hopefully at this time tomorrow, we'll wake up in Cyprus and fly back to the U.S.," Sarah Ahmadia told the Star-Bulletin yesterday afternoon in a cell phone interview from Sharoon.
Ahmadia, 27, a biology teacher at the Keaau campus of Kamehameha Schools, and hundreds of other Americans were scheduled to head to a military barracks at the U.S. Embassy with her two aunts and three cousins -- ages 2, 7, and 12 -- at 1 p.m. Beirut time today (11 last night Hawaii time).
From there, they are to be taken by a cruise ship to Cyprus.
"From what I understand, we're going to be the first major group of Americans to be going on the boat," she said.
Ahmadia arrived in Lebanon on July 8 for a three-week vacation. Four days later, her cousin witnessed a bombing while they were at a beach south of Beirut. The following morning, Ahmadia and her relatives found out through television news that the airport and other parts of Lebanon were being attacked.
Bombs exploded within 500 yards of her relatives' home in Sofer, a summer resort town near Beirut where she was staying, prompting her and her relatives to head to Sharoon.
Ahmadia's father, Jamil, said yesterday he hopes they will safely reach the U.S. Embassy, which is 20 miles from Sharoon. "It should take 40 minutes to reach the U.S. Embassy," he said.
Ahmadia's cousin, who is in the Lebanese Army, was to drive the group to the barracks.
Ahmadia noted that Israel has stopped bombing Beirut yesterday while Americans evacuate Lebanon.
Once they reach Cyprus, Ahmadia and her relatives will have to make their own arrangements to fly back to the United States, she said.
Ahmadia's father said he checked with British Airways, the airlines his daughter and relatives took to travel to Lebanon, but all flights are booked.
"I'm hoping the (U.S.) State Department adds more flights and routes so they can get more passengers out of there," he said. "We can't wait to get her out of there."