United Nations: The United Nations has demanded urgent access to injured and dying in Libya's rebel-held third largest city Misrata, which has been shelled by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

"Humanitarian organizations need urgent access now. People are injured and dying and need help immediately. I call on the authorities to provide access without delay to allow aid workers to help save lives," UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, on a tour of the Tunisia-Libya frontier regions, said in a statement.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in the statement that the Benghazi Red Crescent reported that Misrata, east of the capital Tripoli, “is under attack by government forces and that the Libyan Red Crescent is trying to get ambulances from Tripoli in to collect the dead and injured."

"Tanks are shelling the centre of the city, near the radio headquarters. We are also hearing heavy automatic weapon fire," one resident of Misrata said on condition of anonymity.  "The residents are not armed. If the international community doesn't intervene quickly, there will be carnage."

A rebel spokesman also confirmed that Misrata was under intense fire from pro-Gaddafi forces and reported ‘casualties’ but insisted the city was still in rebel hands.

"Gaddafi forces are shelling Misrata randomly. They are using mortars and rockets," said the spokesman who cannot be identified by name for security reasons.  "They are firing on protesters gathered at Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square)" in the city centre and tanks are also shelling houses as well," he said.

(Agencies)