News / Africa

Fuel Tank Fires Rage as Libya Struggles With Violence

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

A fire continued to rage out of control Tuesday at an oil depot that supplies Libya's airport in the capital Tripoli, officials said.

The fuel storage tanks were struck on Monday in the crossfire of warring militias battling for control of the airfield, the latest violence to plague the country.

Libya's interim government said in a statement that the fire could trigger a "humanitarian and environmental disaster" in Tripoli, and appealed for "international help" to extinguish the inferno.

The blaze spread to a second depot on Monday afternoon, the government said.

It was unclear if there were any injuries from the fire.

Deadliest violence

Libya has descended into its deadliest violence since the 2011 war that ousted Moammer Gadhafi, with the central government unable to impose order amid a climate of political and security instability that is affecting citizen's access to necessities.

Most gas stations in Tripoli have been closed since fighting erupted between rival militias fighting for control of the Libyan capital's airport.

Hundreds of cars have been left for days in huge lines at different petrol stations waiting for fuel, Reuters reported.    

“The holidays are here and people want to enjoy Eid, but they can not. They want to go out and shop for Eid, but they don't have one drop of petrol,” Mohammed Algiriani, a Tripoli resident told Reuters on Saturday.

Monday marked the start of Eid al-Fitr in Libya and across much of the Muslim world.

The holiday is Islam's biggest annual celebration at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, celebrated with large family gatherings around traditional food and special desserts, family outings and wearing new clothes.

But in Libya, many families have been unable to enjoy Eid this year.    

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 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.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Libya said in a statement the gasoline crisis was mainly a security problem and was not caused by a lack of supplies.

Marwan, a Tunisian worker at Abustah Gas Station in Tripoli, said there was enough petrol.

“Petrol is available, but it is the way citizens are dealing with it. When people fill their cars, they fill up for four, five, six or seven days,” he said.

“Let the crisis pass because there is petrol. Libya is the world's third largest producer of petrol, so how is it possible not to have petrol? If it is short on petrol, then it is because of someone's creation,” Marwan added.

Security groups

Libya's fragile government, with no strong standing army of its own and hamstrung by political infighting, is struggling to impose order on the vast North African OPEC oil producer whose turmoil threatens to spill over its borders.

In Tripoli, the government has sanctioned civil defense units to stand in for protecting citizens.

The “Joint Security Room” is one such group.

“We provide protection without any problems. The force protecting the station can come, but there will be gun fire, you know it is not a secret everyone has bullets at home and we don't want anyone to get killed at the station. Some people sabotage the process by breaking the fuel pipes, blocking the barrels or breaking their gas meters,” a member of the group who refused to identify himself said.

Meanwhile, Libya's oil production fell last week, eroding increases since April in revenue for the state after officials managed to negotiate an end to a blockade of vital oil ports.

A spokesman for the National Oil Corporation said production July 21 had been at 450,000 barrels per day down from 555,000 bpd a few days earlier, partly because El-Feel oilfield had reduced output due to the clashes in Tripoli.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs