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article imageHuge fuel depot fire adds to turmoil in Tripoli

By Karen Graham     Jul 28, 2014 in World
Tripoli - An oil depot fire on the outskirts of Tripoli that started after a rocket struck a tank containing more than 1.6 million gallons of oil has now spread to include a second tank, hit by shrapnel resulting from fighting by rival militia groups.
The fighting by rival militia groups over control of Tripoli's international airport has intensified, leaving the country in chaos. Firefighters had almost gotten the oil fire under control at the oil depot owned by Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) when the fighting between the rebel groups increased, forcing firefighters to withdraw.
Many foreign embassies have been closed, their governments powerless to do anything other than pull out, hoping things will return to normal. The Netherlands, Philippines and Austria evacuated their embassy staff on Monday, joining the U.S. United Nations and Turkish embassies who had already left the country. Italy and Malta have sent aircraft to the Miitiga military airport to airlift their nationals out.
For the past two weeks, rival groups of rebels have clashed for control of Tripoli International Airport, and in the process have killed over 160 people in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi. Mohamed Al-Harrai, a spokesman for the national oil company said about the oil depot fire, "The firefighters have now left the scene. The situation is out of control."
With the very real fear of Libya becoming a failed state, government leaders have appealed for international help. many nations already fear that fighting could end up crossing Libyan borders, where dissidents are already making money off the turmoil in Libya. Today, Libya again begged for international aid in helping to control the oil depot fire. There are real fears the fire will spread to a natural gas reservoir, where over 90 million gallons are stored.
The oil depot is six miles outside the city on the road leading to Tripoli International Airport. The airport has been devastated by the militants, with planes destroyed and the aviation control center knocked out.
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