Concern heightens for the people of Sirte

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Concern heightens for the people of Sirte

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Residents from the Libyan city of Sirte are fleeing in fear but face a long and agonising wait. The queues build at checkpoints as members of the National Transitional Council search the cars in the home city of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Petrol is rationed. They are leaving behind bitter fighting and a city starved of essentials. There are reports of the wounded dying on the operating table as fuel for the hospital’s power has run out.

One resident, Zahran Awad fleeing with his wife and children summed up the situation.

“It is extremely bad,” he said and added, “there is no petrol, no food, no medicine, nothing. And the people can’t leave because there is so much fighting and shelling.”

As fears grow a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the coastal city a team from the International Red Cross arrived to deliver potentially life saving equipment. They could not reach the hospital because of shooting.

The interim government had declared a two-day truce to allow civilians to escape but witness leaving spoke of continued shooting.

An amateur video purportedly filmed by a NTC fighter showed intense clashes on the streets on Saturday though the day and content could not be verified.

An NTC commander has been reported as saying when the truce runs out on Sunday they would move to the centre of the city.