Channel NewsAsia

Firefighters battle Libya's fuel depot inferno

Firefighters were battling to douse a huge blaze at a petrol depot near the airport in the Libyan capital for the fourth day on Wednesday (July 30), the oil ministry said.

TRIPOLI: Firefighters were battling to douse a huge blaze at a petrol depot near the airport in the Libyan capital for the fourth day on Wednesday (July 30), the oil ministry said. The latest efforts to contain the inferno came a day after the government said the situation was "out of control".

The fire erupted on Sunday when a rocket hit a tank containing more than six million litres (1.6 million gallons) of fuel as rival militias battled for control of the city's airport.

"The operations to put out the fire on the hydrocarbon reservoirs... are continuing as necessary," senior ministry official Samir Kamal said, without giving further details. A spokesman for Libya's National Oil Corporation, Mohamed al-Hrari, declined to comment, saying the company would issue a statement later on Wednesday.

The oil ministry appealed late on Tuesday to private and public companies that own water trucks to gather their vehicles on Wednesday morning near the depot to provide firefighters with water. Emergency services rapidly found themselves running low on water as they fought the blaze, in addition to disruption caused by nearby fighting between militias.

The huge fuel tanks were still burning on Wednesday, after being hit by rockets fired in clashes along Tripoli's airport road. More than 90 million litres of fuel are stored in the facility, which also houses a natural gas reservoir.

The complex is on the airport road, where fighting between militias for control of the airport has killed at least 100 people and wounded 400 since July 13.

The Libyan authorities on Monday warned of a "catastrophe" if the fire could not be brought under control and called for an immediate halt to the violence to allow in foreign help. Intermittent gunfire was heard in the area on Wednesday after fighting eased late on Tuesday along the airport road.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia