|Christl Leong |||Jul 29, 2014 01:55 AM EDT|
(Photo : REUTERS/Mussab Al-Khairalla) A large fireball erupts from a burning fuel depot container in Misrata's port on July 25, 2011.
Libya's leaders called for international assistance on Monday to help put out a fire that raged out of control after it was caught in the crossfire between clashes for control over the capital's international airport.
The fire started on Sunday after it was hit by rocket fire from warring forces. As firefighters from nearby towns and cities scrambled to contain the blaze, a second oil tanker was hit by shrapnel, igniting it and worsening the situation.
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National Oil Company (NOC) spokesman Mohamed Al-Harrai told media on Monday that the fire in oil depot - which has a 6 million liter oil storage capacity - could spread to a nearby natural gas reserve where 90 million liters of liquid gas was stored.
Local media stations urged residents living within a three to five kilometer radius to flee the area.
However, Tripoli BBC correspondent Rana Jawad warned that evacuation would be difficult, citing the security situation in the area.
Continued fighting in area had forced the firefighters to withdraw from the site that left the blaze raging out of control, said Al-Harrai.
Despite repeated appeals from the government to cease all hostilities, an AFP photographer said that rocket fire could still be seen in the area.
A statement released by the government said the fire could lead to an environmental and humanitarian disaster in the capital and appealed for foreign assistance in containing the inferno, according to the Associated Press.
However, the statement failed to indicate what it needed.
Meanwhile, several countries including Austria, Egypt, Belgium, Spain, Malta, Turkey and the U.S. urged its citizens to leave Libya amid escalating violence.
Egypt called its nationals to leave Benghazi and Tripoli immediately.
An Egyptian news agency reported that 23 Egyptian nationals had been killed on Saturday when their home had been hit by rocket fire during a fight between warring militias that battled for control over Tripoli's airport.
The Associated Press cited the Health Ministry that said as of Sunday, the fighting has resulted in 79 deaths and at least 400 injuries.
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