A POOLE businessman who was caught up in the crisis in Lebanon has spoken of his relief at returning home.

Alan Lane, 62, was on a business trip in Beirut and had been due to fly home last week but contacted the British Embassy after he witnessed the bombing of the city's airport from his hotel window.

Mr Lane, from Anthony's Avenue, Lilliput, was advised to stay put and eventually arrived home on Friday - a week after he was due to return.

He told the Daily Echo: "We went via the British Embassy in Beirut. I and others went down to a muster point where HMS York, the destroyer, came in.

"We all got on and travelled to Limassol in Cyprus. There we were taken to the Nato base run by the RAF and put up in a hangar for the night.

"Then the next day they chartered a plane which took us to Gatwick, all at the government's expense."

Mr Lane, who works in public relations with a large international company, said his hotel was up in the hills so he was away from the southern parts of the city, which were being targeted by Israel.

But he said his main concern was how to get out of the country.

He added: "Within the first two days of the runway being bombed, they then took out roads and bridges and other infrastructure so they were cutting the city off.

"It was a feeling of being trapped, which wasn't very nice. The pressure was how were we going to get out?' Some people took the coastal road, but that became increasingly dangerous and expensive.

"We had bombing every night, huge explosions, you could see smoke coming up from Beirut down below.

"It felt like the last days of Saigon during the Vietnam war - everybody leaving. It was very frightening, we didn't know how safe we were. There was a chance of being hit."

Mr Lane managed to contact his partner Katrina Smith every day and said she had frequently been speaking to the British Embassy on his behalf.

He added: "Sometimes she got through to the embassy better than I could because of the panic some of the lines were tied up.

"There was a real fear that the Israelis might take out the phone system.

"But I do feel for the Lebanese people who are there because it's their home."

Mr Lane said it was not until he knew for sure he was escaping the country that he began to feel safe.

He added: "The relief didn't hit until I got to the docks where we were told to muster. Then I thought Britain is getting us out'. I can't have enough praise for the army and the navy.

"When I walked through the front door it was great, it was home. It made me realise what a great place Britain is and what great services we have, they really set an example."

Katrina said she was "absolutely beside herself" to have Mr Lane home again, saying: "It was a long day on Thursday for everybody but I knew that once he had landed at Gatwick he was home."

It is not the first time Mr Lane has been caught up in a foreign conflict. He was staying in Lagos in Nigeria several years ago when there was a coup.