Libya’s capital on the brink of environmental disaster

A picture taken on July 28, 2014 shows flames and smoke billowing from an oil depot where a huge blaze started following clashes around Tripoli airport, in southern Tripoli (AFP)

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…