Frederik Pleitgen and Jonathan Wald
Misrata, Libya (CNN) - Five weeks of battle and Misrata looks grim. Bullets have made Swiss cheese of buildings. Wreckage litters streets that are empty save opposition fighters desperately defending their city against Moammar Gadhafi's heavy armor.
The Libyan leader laid siege to the nation's third largest and most prosperous city after opposition fighters took control here. Just two hours east of Tripoli, it was the final rebel stronghold in the West.
Now it is a city of fear, uncertainty and human suffering.
International reporters had not been able to access central Misrata and many of CNN's reports were cobbled together from interviews with witnesses and doctors. That was until Wednesday, when CNN journalists were able to reach the city by boat.
The fishing trawler was commissioned by two wealthy Libyan businessman from England to carry 150 tons of food, medicine and other basic supplies. A heart surgeon on board said he wants to do everything he can to help: Libya is in "mortal danger" and he could not stand by without doing his share.
Gadhafi's tank-supported forces lob shells into Misrata from their encampments. Rooftop snipers take aim at civilians from the Libyan Insurance Company building, Misrata's tallest, on Tripoli Street in the heart of the city. A green flag flutters atop, signifying support for Gadhafi.
One Misrata resident says Gadhafi's men are going door-to-door evicting and terrorizing people. It's "utter madness," he said Thursday, fearing a massacre.
Bullets zing through the air. Tension hangs thick and heavy.
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