Rising temperatures from a flaming oil depot may ignite nearby reserves containing 90 million liters of fuel which will lead to a “catastrophe” affecting a radius of three to five kilometers, Libyan officials warned on Tuesday according to Al Arabiya News Channel.
The Buraiqa fuel depot continues to burn out of control after it was set ablaze on Monday, Reuters reported. A missile hit the depot during fighting between rival militias, which enters its third week, igniting more than one million liters of benzene. Combat has claimed more than 100 lives and wounded 400 others.
Firefighters were forced to withdraw from attempts to extinguish the fire due to fighting over control of a nearby airport. In a statement, the Libyan government appealed to the international community to aid in extinguishing the fire, which reached another oil depot nearby.
The Buraiqa depot houses all fuel and gas reserves consumed by the city’s population.
As a result of the turmoil, fuel and gas shortages, in addition to frequent electricity cuts, have affected life in in Tripoli. Water pumping stations stopped operating and in consequence many do not have access to running water.
Libya’s oil ministry called upon the people of Tripoli to take caution of the fire and to evacuate the area surrounding the depots.
Fears of spillover
Libya has called for international help to stop the country from becoming a failed state. The Italian government and national energy giant ENI will send seven fire-fighting planes in response to the Libyan government’s call for aid in extinguishing the fire, Libyan authorities said Tuesday.
Italy will also send teams to help firefighters try to tackle the blaze.
Western partners fear chaos spilling across borders with arms smugglers and militants already profiting from the turmoil.
In neighboring Egypt, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has repeatedly warned about militants capitalizing on Libya's chaos to set up bases along their mutual frontier, according to Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the "free-wheeling militia violence" had been a real risk for American diplomats on the ground, and called for an end to the violence.
U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by militants along with three others in Benghazi in September 2012.
- Libya sliding towards civil war: experts
- Second oil depot catches fire in Libya’s Tripoli
- Filings: Libya is paying for legal defense of al-Qaeda suspect al-Liby
- Libya denies Egyptians killed in Tripoli attack
- U.S. diplomats’ return to Libya could be more hazardous than exit
- More than 50 killed in Libya clashes
- Egypt warns citizens against travel to Libya
- UK embassy convoy hit by gunfire in Libya
- U.S. pulls embassy staff from Libyan capital
- Suicide bomb kills at least four at army base in Libya’s Benghazi
- Turkey says suspends operations in Libya embassy due to security woes
- Bloody clashes break out in Libya's Benghazi
- Libya Islamists resume assault on Tripoli airport