Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was dragged from his last hiding place – a small drainage tunnel – and killed last month following half a year of violence during the Libyan uprising. Graffiti was scrawled around the mouth of the storm water drain that proclaimed: ‘this is the place of Gaddafi, the rat’. Each side of the dual drain is less than 1m in diameter and less than 15m in length.

Located in the dictator’s birthplace, Sirte, the drainage tunnel was a small part of ‘extensive’ projects implemented by Gaddafi to upgrade his home village to a city. The use of underground space was of special interest to Gaddafi. It was thought that the extensive network of ‘escape tunnels’ beneath Libya’s capital Tripoli would permit Gaddafi to elude capture.

Better known was the USD 24bn Great Manmade River project. The south to north irrigation project was the largest in the world at the time of construction. It runs for 2820km with a 4m diameter. In places it is up to 180m deep. As T&TI went to press, it was unknown if the new government would turn to tunneling with the same alacrity as Gaddafi.