- 14 updates
More than 100 Britons have arrived in Malta after being evacuated from Libya, where fighting between rival armed factions has spread in the capital.
The British survey ship HMS Enterprise evacuated 110 Britons. The British ambassador to Libya, Michael Aron, said the group included 30 children, 12 infants, four pregnant women and one elderly and sick person.
Britain was one of the last Western countries with an embassy open in Tripoli after the weeks of street fighting forced the United States, the United Nations and European diplomatic staff to leave.
Also on board the Enterprise was a small number of Irish and German people.
Around 100 Britons have been evacuated from Libya on a Royal Navy ship, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Among them were staff from the UK embassy that was forced to shut down against a backdrop of deadly fighting between rival militias in the north African state.
An FCO spokesman said: "We have carried out an assisted departure and the vessel is leaving Libya with those on board. The majority of them are British."
The ship which departed from Libya's captial Tripoli, is heading for Malta.
The Foreign Office has confirmed the assisted departure of British nationals from Libya "is under way".
Earlier today 22 people were killed in the Libyan capital of Tripoli as heavily-armed groups fight for control of the international airport.
The Royal Navy is reported to be preparing to evacuate Britons from Libya amid escalating violence in the north African state.
Sky News reported that the survey ship HMS Enterprise is heading for the port of Tripoli and is expected to moor offshore on Sunday.
The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the reports. An MoD spokesman said: "As the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has made clear, the UK Government will provide assisted departure for a number of UK nationals before suspending consular operations on Monday."
"For operational reasons we will not discuss further details including whether, and in what ways, the MoD could support these efforts."
Escalating violence in Libya has prompted the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to shut down its embassy in the country.
Many staff were evacuated earlier this week following intense fighting in Tripoli but now the FCO says it will suspend its consulate once it has assisted the departure of British nationals.
British Ambassador to Libya Michael Aron wrote on Twitter:
"The protection of our staff is paramount, and we assess that the current environment in Tripoli does not allow us to operate safely. We have therefore decided temporarily to relocate UK-based staff from the country," an FCO spokesman said.
A group of UK nationals has left Libya on a French boat following the escalation in violence between rival militias in and around the capital, Tripoli.
"A small group of British nationals left Tripoli this morning on board a French frigate," a Foreign Office spokesperson said.
"Our advice remains that British nationals should leave by commercial means still available, and we are monitoring the situation and keeping our advice under constant review."
A rocket attack on fuel tanks near Tripoli airport in Libya has caused a huge "out of control" fire as clashes between rival militias intensified.
"It is out of control. The second tank has been hit and the firefighters have withdrawn from the site as the fighting has resumed in the area", the National Oil Company Mohamed Al-Harrai told Reuters.
Libya has asked for international help after an oil depot caught fire amid clashes over the country's international airport in Tripoli.
The country's interim government said in a statement posted on its website that the fighting between rival militias caused the blaze, which could trigger a "humanitarian and environmental disaster."
It appealed for "international help" but did not specify what sort of help it wants.
Libyan TV stations called on residents to evacuate areas within a three-mile radius of the airport. Many Libyan families responded to the call and scrambled to leave their homes.
At least 36 people were killed during the weekend's clashes between Libyan Special Forces and Islamist militants in Benghazi, security officials said.
The government said more than 150 people have died, many of them civilian, in the capital Tripoli and Benghazi in two weeks of fighting as clashes forced UK and other foreign diplomats to pull out of the country.
France and Germany have joined Britain in calling on their citizens in Libya to leave the country amid the worst violence since the war that brought the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.
The United States evacuated its embassy in Libya yesterday with diplomats driven across the border into Tunisia under heavy military escort after rising trouble in Tripoli.