Children help to fill containers with water in the city of Tripoli.

Tripoli has been without mains water for days because of damage to a power cable in Bani Walid, where all the capital's water is pumped from, Tripoli's water and sanitation company said on Monday.

“There are two cables coming from southern Libya, through Bani Walid. One of them was damaged last Thursday, at 6:00 pm (1600

GMT), so the generator used to pump the water stopped working,” Ali Mitshi told AFP.

“A team of engineers went to Bani Walid today. But because we don't have a telephone connection, we don't know what the situation is. Tomorrow we should know how long it will take to fix the problem,” he said.

The water pipeline infrastructure linking Bani Walid and the Libyan capital is part of the country's massive Great Man-Made River (GMMR) project that supplies Libya's coastal population centres with water.

Built at a cost of 33 billion dollars, the GMMR taps water from underground aquifers deep in the Sahara desert at depths of between 500 and 800 metres, purifies it and transports it to the coastal cities of the north.

Officials of the former regime warned in April that a “human and environmental disaster” was on the cards if the GMMR was hit by the conflict.

Mitshi said on Monday that, as an emergency measure, some families in Tripoli that had their own wells were distributing water to those without it, including hospitals, mosques and hotels. - Sapa-AFP