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American recounts harrowing ordeal leaving Libya

An American who left Libya and has made it to Malta said on "The Early Show" Thursday conditions in the country were "just the worst you can imagine."

Brad Hollier told co-anchor Erica Hill of his family's ordeal.

"On the way to the airport, we were stopped by, I guess it would be pro-(Libyan leader Muammar) Qaddafi supporters, checking people as they were coming through, just a checkpoint. You know, armed personnel on the streets. It was pretty scary for my wife and son to go through. We weren't sure how we were going to make it through. Luckily, we had a driver who could negotiate us through these checkpoints, arrive at the airport only to see the crowd get larger."

He said it took his family two hours to get inside the airport's doors.

"Once we were inside, just mass chaos," he said. "You know, every time they'd open up a desk for a flight, everyone was trying to get on these flights. There were a few fights and things inside the airport. Really shook my family up a lot. It was a very -- very stressful situation to be in."

He added the pictures of the airport can't compare to what his family experienced.

"The pictures we are seeing now of the airport, just from yesterday, those pictures can't even come close to describing how packed it was, and how the situation was when we were there," he said. "That is one thousand percent improvement over what it was when we were there. You can actually see chairs now. When we were there, it was basically people sleeping on top of people, just the worst you could possibly imagine."

To leave the country, Hollier said, passengers on flights had to have physical boarding passes -- even with confirmed flights.

"At the time, they weren't letting anyone out to get these boarding passes," he said. "It was extremely difficult. Thankfully, we had a lot of the locals, we had a few locals with us, actually, that were actually helping us that we met in the airport. So they were really, you know, they came to our aid, saying that I had a family with me and we're just trying to get out. If it wasn't for them, I really appreciate their work that they came in and, you know, aided us in getting out."

Hill said, "I'm sure there's still a lot of processing that needs to take place for you and your family. But we're glad you're safe."