Construction body joins forces with security firm to evacuate workers from conflict-torn Beirut

The British Consultants and Construction Bureau is working with a security firm to evacuate UK construction workers from Lebanon amid the escalating crisis in the Middle East.

Fears have grown for the safety of workers after Israeli air raids on parts of Beirut and other areas of Lebanon.

At least 230 civilians have died so far in the conflict, prompting evacuations of foreign personnel.

The bureau, which represents the interests of UK firms abroad, is working with security firm Edinburgh International to help member firms evacuate workers from the area.

Graham Hand, chief executive of the bureau, said: “At the moment it is unclear which of our companies are involved, but I think quite a few are.”

Middle East consultant DJ Jones, which operates in partnership with UK firm Cyril Sweett and has offices in Beirut, is understood to be carrying out an urgent assessment of staff safety. As Building went to press on Wednesday a Cyril Sweett spokesperson said that no evacuation had taken place but that security measures were under review. Cyril Sweett, a bureau member, has three staff seconded to DJ Jones, which has about 60 workers in Lebanon.

It is also understood that Davis Langdon has evacuated most of the staff from its Beirut office but will keep the office open.

Other firms that have recently worked in the region include Amec, engineer Arup and consultant Mott MacDonald.

Arup is involved in a transport infrastructure study that includes Israel and Lebanon. A spokesperson said it had no staff in the area but that it was too early to say how the project would be affected.

An Amec spokesperson confirmed the firm no longer had operatives in the region, having recently sold its project in Israel.

International consultant Mott MacDonald said that although it had no staff in the affected region, it was monitoring the security situation at its other Middle East projects.

International managing director Bill Rankin said: “We do feel a bit anxious. There are no plans for any immediate change, but we hope international pressure is brought to bear to ease the current situation.”

It also emerged this week that before the conflict broke out staff from Arup and the British embassy in Beirut had carried out a campaign to promote British construction in the region.