News / Africa

Fuel Tank Blaze Near Tripoli Airport 'Out of Control'

Black smoke billows over the skyline as a fire at the oil depot for the airport rages out of control after being struck in the crossfire of warring militias battling for control of the airfield, in Tripoli, Libya, July 28, 2014.
Black smoke billows over the skyline as a fire at the oil depot for the airport rages out of control after being struck in the crossfire of warring militias battling for control of the airfield, in Tripoli, Libya, July 28, 2014.
VOA News

The huge fire from fuel tanks near Tripoli's international airport that has been ignited by rocket attacks is out of control as clashes between rival militias have resumed in the area, the National Oil Company (NOC) spokesman said on Monday.

"It is out of control. The second tank has been hit and the firefighters have withdrawn from the site as the fighting has resumed in the area," NOC spokesman Mohamed Al-Harrai told Reuters.

Earlier Monday, at least 36 people were killed in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi where Libyan Special Forces and Islamist militants clashed on Saturday night and Sunday morning, medical and security sources said.

The government said more than 150 people have died, many of them civilian, in the capital Tripoli and Benghazi in two weeks of fighting as clashes forced U.S. and foreign diplomats to pull out of the country over the weekend.

Early Monday, the Libyan government appealed for "international help" after several oil storage tanks caught fire amid clashes over the country's international airport in the capital, Tripoli.

Fuel tanks hit

Fuel storage tanks that supply Tripoli were hit on Sunday by rockets igniting a huge fire near the international airport, the National oil corporation (NOC) said.

"It is a tank of 6 million liters of gasoline and it is close to others containing gas and diesel," NOC spokesman Mohamed al-Alharari said. "The firefighters are trying to counter the fire, but if they cannot, a big disaster will happen" he added.

In a statement posted on its website on Monday, the interim government said the fighting between rival militias caused the huge blaze, which could trigger a "humanitarian and environmental disaster."

Libyan TV stations called on residents to evacuate areas near the airport. Social networking sites posted images of billowing black smoke over Tripoli skyline.

Also on Sunday, Egypt and several Western states urged their nationals to leave Libya amid spiralling violence.

Cairo called on "all Egyptian nationals in Tripoli and Benghazi to immediately leave and save themselves from this chaotic internal fighting."

There were an estimated 1.5 million Egyptians in Libya before Qadhafi's ouster. About two-thirds left during the war but many returned in 2012.

In addition to the U.S. and Egypt, Belgium, Malta, Spain and Turkey previously urged their nationals to leave.

In Tripoli, 23 people, all Egyptian workers, were killed when a rocket hit their home on Saturday during fighting between rival militias battling over the city's main airport, the Egyptian state news agency reported.

Death toll rises

Since the clashes erupted earlier this month, 94 people have died in the capital, and more than 400 have been injured as militias exchanged rocket and artillery fire across southern Tripoli, the health ministry said.

Another 55 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Benghazi since the clashes have intensified over the last week between regular forces and Islamist militants who are entrenched in the city.

"Most of the victims we have noticed are civilians as the fighters have their own hospitals on the battlefield," a Benghazi medical source told Reuters.

The airport has been closed since July 13 because of the clashes.

In the last two weeks, Libya has descended into its deadliest violence since the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with the central government unable to impose order.

On Sunday, shelling continued in Tripoli around the international airport that is controlled by militias from the western city of Zintan. More Islamist-leaning rival brigades are trying to force them from the airport, which Zintanis have controlled since the fall of Tripoli.

But clashes were far heavier in Benghazi overnight, where regular army and air force units have joined with a renegade ex-army general who has launched a self-declared campaign to oust Islamist militants from the city.

Libya's Western allies worry the OPEC country is becoming polarised between the two main factions of competing militia brigades and their political allies, whose battle is shaping the country's transition.

In a frame grab from a video obtained from a freelance journalist traveling with the Misarata brigade, fighters from the Islamist Misarata brigade fire toward Tripoli airport in an attempt to wrest control from a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya,
In a frame grab from a video obtained from a freelance journalist traveling with the Misarata brigade, fighters from the Islamist Misarata brigade fire toward Tripoli airport in an attempt to wrest control from a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya,

Militias battle

Meanwhile, dramatic footage obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday showed rival Libyan militia violently battling for control of the capital's international airport on Saturday.

A large airplane was destroyed in the violence, the remains of which sat on the tarmac belching black smoke into the air.

The footage was provided to the AP by a freelancer travelling with militia from the city of Misrata, east of Tripoli.

The rival militias have forced a week long closure of petrol stations and government offices. 

In recent days, armed men have attacked vehicles carrying money from the Central Bank to local banks, forcing their closure as well.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
July 29, 2014 2:09 AM
It's very sad to see what average Libyans are going through. It's very clear that the signs are there that Libya is fast following Somalia's route to ruins and destruction.
May God help Libya

by: Richard from: Santa Cruz
July 28, 2014 12:25 PM
Libya is a basket case now. It had the highest standard of living in all of Africa before the US/Nato invasion. Libya had planned to sell their oil for gold and create a currency called the Dinar before the invasion.

by: JGTinNJ from: USA
July 28, 2014 10:54 AM
McCain and other American political leaders were complaining that Obama was "leading from behind" because he was hesitating in committing US military to action in Libya. But the Europeans applied pressure to "do something", and a feel good Security Council effort to "protect civilians" was taken as an excuse for wholesale intervention. No planning, no realistic vision, no real understanding of what the issues were. The result? A predictable mess. The moral of the story? Outsiders should not back rebel groups that have little unity, leadership experience, or vision of a better way, and once again we have seen that a violent revolution might make some people feel good, but historically usually does not result in the improvement of people's lives.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More