Celebrations erupt in Libya amid news of Gadhafi’s death

Updated 6:12 PM EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
01:00 - Source: CNN
Libyans celebrate in Tripoli

Story highlights

Celebrations erupt in the Libyan cites of Tripoli and Sirte

Drivers, ships sound their horns as celebratory gunshots are fired

Outside a hotel, staffers dance and wave Libyan flags

CNN —  

Libyans erupted in jubilation Thursday from the very first incomplete reports that ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi was dead.

A “cacophony of celebration” could be heard in Tripoli as ships and cars blasted their horns and shots were fired into the air, said CNN’s Dan Rivers.

“It is very, very loud – a lot of excitement,” Rivers said.

“It’s a great moment,” said Mahmoud Shammam, information minister for Libya’s National Transitional Council. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for decades, and I’m thanking God that I’m alive to see this moment.”

Video footage showed a Tripoli street where people embraced and jumped in joy and crowds ran alongside vehicles. Other rejoicing people were hanging out of car windows and sunroofs and gathered in the beds of pickup trucks.

The sound of cheering could be heard, along with a call to prayer.

Outside a hotel, staff including chefs wearing their white hats gathered, dancing and waving Libyan flags.

“They’re breathing a huge sigh of relief here,” Rivers said. Many Libyans were concerned that a free Gadhafi might play a role in destabilizing Libya in the future, he said.

In Sirte – Gadhafi’s hometown and the city where he was discovered – video showed people gathering in celebration, some riding on the tops of cars waving Libyan flags and shooting guns in the air as horns honked.

One man, dressed