Oil Depot on Fire Amid Tripoli Clashes 07/28 06:09
The Libyan government on Monday appealed for international help after a huge
oil depot caught fire amid clashes over the country's international airport in
the capital, Tripoli.
CAIRO (AP) -- The Libyan government on Monday appealed for international
help after a huge oil depot caught fire amid clashes over the country's
international airport in the capital, Tripoli.
The interim government said in a statement posted on its website that the
fighting between rival militias caused the huge blaze, which could trigger a
"humanitarian and environmental disaster."
It appealed for "international help" but did not specify what exactly the
government wants the world to do.
Libyan TV stations called on residents to evacuate areas within a
five-kilometer (three-mile) radius of the airport. Many Libyan families
responded to the call and scrambled to leave their homes. Social networking
sites posted images of black smoke billowing over the Tripoli skyline.
The battle for control of the airport began two weeks ago when Islamist-led
militias --- mostly from the western city of Misrata --- launched a surprise
assault on the airport, which has been under control of a rival militia from
the western mountain town of Zintan.
The Health Ministry said Sunday that the fighting has so far killed 79
people and wounded more than 400.
On Saturday, the United States evacuated its diplomats from Tripoli to
neighboring Tunisia and shut its embassy. The U.N. Support Mission in Libya and
the International Committee of the Red Cross have already withdrawn their staff
Also Monday, Mohammed al-Harari, the spokesman for the Libyan National Oil
Company, said the oil depot on fire has a capacity of 6 million liters (1.6
million gallons) and that if the fire was not brought under control it could
ignite nearby liquid gas storages.
Firefighting engines from several nearby cities and towns have been deployed
to help extinguish the blaze, said a Libyan security official, speaking on
condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media. The
fire, which he claimed was now under control, had also destroyed several
government and private cars in the area.