Boston doctor speaks out upon return from Libya
BOSTON (WHDH) -- A Massachusetts doctor spoke to 7News on Friday about the meeting he was supposed to have with the U.S. Ambassador that was killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Dr. Thomas Burke returned to Boston on Thursday night after being airlifted out of Libya for his own safety. Burke, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been in Libya for just a few days when Benghazi came under attack.
“The next morning at 10 o’clock the ambassador was coming to the hospital and planned to meet with us and go over what it was that we were embarking on,” said Burke.
Burke heads the division of global health and human rights at Mass. General and had traveled to Libya to help rebuild the health care system. The doctor’s team was actually talking to the ambassador’s colleagues when protesters attacked the consulate.
“While they were on the phone we all heard the explosion and the attaché on the other end of the phone yelled and then hung up, said he had to go,” said Burke.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, including Winchester native Glen Doherty, were killed. Burke was in his hotel just a mile or two away.
“We could hear deep explosions, heavy explosions,” said Burke.
Burke got word the next morning about the deaths of the Americans. He said the Libyans he saw were deeply saddened.
“People came up to me and would take my hand into both of their hands. I somehow represented the United States and they just kept saying, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m sorry,’” said Burke.
Burke had never met Stevens, but said the ambassador was highly respected in Libya as he and his team helped rebuild the country.
Burke said he left Libya a day earlier than he had planned to after leaders asked him to leave for his own safety.