Libya's Catastrophic Oil Fires Were Visible From Space

A massive oil fire that raged for days at Libya’s largest oil port after a stray rocket attack was visible from space. 

These photos from NASA’s Earth Observatory show how far the smoke plume has traveled across Libya. The satellite images were taken on Dec. 29 and 30, almost a full week after the start of the oil fire. 

The fire started on Dec. 25 after a rocket hit an oil tanker in the port of Es Sider. The conflagration quickly spread to a total of six oil tanks, creating a fire that burned for days and a plume of smoke that could clearly be seen from space. 

The fire started after an Islamist militia loyal to one of the two competing governments in Libya tried to seize control of the port.

Libya has had two rival governments since August, when the internationally recognised Prime Minister and his parliament were forced to flee Tripoli after an Islamist-led uprising took control of the capital and the west of the country.

Libya estimates that it lost about 850,000 barrels of oil due to the fire, which was reportedly extinguished on January 2nd after raging for several days. The country produced 580,000 barrels a day in November, according to Bloomberg. 

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