MHC Student to Arrive Home Soon

This article ran in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Thursday, July 20, 2006.

By Shoshana Walter

Claire Thomas, a Mount Holyoke College junior spending the summer as an intern at a newspaper in Beirut, is expected home today.

Thomas, 19, who found her initial efforts to leave the violence-plagued area to be for naught, wound up moving into the dormitories at the American University in Beirut Thursday, but hoping to depart ''on a moment's notice,'' according to her mother, Sandra Linville-Thomas.

Linville-Thomas said Tuesday that her daughter is finally on her way home. She boarded a ship Tuesday afternoon to Cyprus, she flew Wednesday morning to London, and is expected in Kansas City, after days of travel, at 11:30 p.m. tonight.

''I'll be very happy when she's home,'' said Linville-Thomas, of Shawnee, Kansas.

Thomas, was told to prepare to leave on Monday, though she did not know how or where she was going. On Tuesday at 1 p.m. she boarded a bus with other university students and traveled for two hours, until they reached the ship that would take them to Cyprus.

Linville-Thomas said her daughter called her once they arrived and gave her a description of the ship. She said the vessel appeared to be carrying cars and that there didn't appear to be any U.S. embassy presence on board.

Linville-Thomas performed a Web search and found out that the cargo ship, called the ''Hual Transporter,'' had been chartered by Sweden. The ship transported about 200 Americans Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Thomas was told to leave her suitcases at the university, so ''she packed what she could,'' said Linville-Thomas, who expressed concern over the cooler Cyprus climate.

''I'm feeling much better today,'' said Linville-Thomas. ''I can actually go to work and not be distracted.''

She said that she is thankful to Mount Holyoke College and the university in Beirut for ''welcoming Claire into the community and taking care of her.'' If she had been alone, she would not have been able to evacuate when she did, she said.