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NASA satellites spot oil fires in Libya

As many as five oil storage tanks first burst into flames after being shelled by Islamic State militants in early January.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 28, 2016 at 1:19 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- New imagery from NASA's Terra satellite confirms that Libyan oil fires the agency first spotted in early January continue to burn.

"The stream of black smoke that emanates from the refinery has grown tremendously," NASA reports.

The new photographs were taken by Terra's MODIS camera earlier this week. The fires were first imaged by NASA on January 7, shortly after they were started by attacks on local oil refineries in the North African country.

On-the-ground reports suggest as many as five oil storage tanks first burst into flames after being shelled by Islamic State militants.

The refineries are located between the Libyan cities of of Sirte and Benghazi, on the nation's northern coast where the desert sands meet the Gulf of Sidra, a southern portion of the Mediterranean Sea.

"During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, astronauts on the space shuttle played an important role in documenting an environmental tragedy when oil wells across Kuwait were set on fire by Iraqi troops," NASA wrote in a blog post early this month. "Satellite-based and airborne instruments were also critical to documenting the spread of oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico."

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