| Beirut, Lebanon -- Shelling and bombing continues in Lebanon and northern Israel as night falls on the middle east. Beirut International Airport was targeted again by Israel forces, as were roads and communication systems. Hezbollah militants sent rockets into northern Israel earlier and have attacked in smaller skirmishes. In the middle of Beirut, brandishing a cell phone, access to the internet, television and radio is 22-year old Jay Saxon, a student from Birmingham who's studying Arabic and Arab issues there with other Americans who are equally anxious to get out of town. Just a short time ago, he spoke with WBHM's Steve Chiotakis about his surroundings and everything he's seen and heard.
UPDATE 7/15/06: Jay and fellow students successfully evacuated the Lebanese-American University Saturday morning (local time) to the town of Byblos and are awaiting further evacuation to the island of Cyprus. (Thanks to The Birmingham News) We will keep you updated.
UPDATE 7/17/06: Jay and some of the other Lebanese-American University students left the port of Byblos on an international car freighter en route to Cyprus. There are hundreds of people on the boat. He told WBHM's Steve Chiotakis (through a bad cell phone connection) that the passengers were hot and hungry (apparently there are no seats and no food on the boat) and dreading the long journey across the Mediterranean. But he says they are happy to be getting out of the war zone. He's expected to arrive on Cyprus tomorrow morning local time. Other Americans will be flying home to the states while Jay is likely to head back to his apartment in Budapest, Hungary, if he can find a flight and gets permission from the state department.
UPDATE 7/19/06: Jay and more than 1,100 passengers arrived safely on the island of Cyprus, after an 11-hour trip by freighter from Lebanon. WBHM's Steve Chiotakis spoke with him a few hours ago from Cyprus. He says the trip through the war zone was quite the learning - and harrowing - experience.