Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Death Toll in Libya’s Derna Rises to 11,300 After Massive Floods

The death toll in the coastal city of Derna, Libya has reached 11,300, according to the Libyan Red Crescent. The city was devastated by a massive flood caused by heavy rains and the breaching of two dams. An additional 10,100 people are reported missing in the city. Health authorities had previously estimated the death toll at 5,500. The storm also resulted in the deaths of about 170 people in other parts of the country.

The flooding in Derna exposed the vulnerabilities of a country already grappling with conflict since the 2011 uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi. The storm, named Daniel, caused severe flooding in various communities along the eastern coast of Libya. In Derna, the storm caused the two dams outside the city to collapse, resulting in floodwaters rushing through the city, destroying buildings, and sweeping people out to sea.

The incident raised questions about the lack of a functioning meteorological service and the failure to issue warnings. According to the World Meteorological Organization, if there had been a normal meteorological service, warnings could have been issued, and the necessary evacuations could have taken place. The collapse of the dams was not anticipated, as there were no warnings about it.

Libya’s ongoing conflict has contributed to the neglect of infrastructure, including the maintenance of the dams. The dams, built in the 1970s, had not been properly maintained despite the allocation of funds for that purpose. In response to the disaster, government agencies from both rival governments in Libya have come together to provide relief efforts. The eastern government is leading the relief efforts, while the western government has allocated funds for reconstruction. Non-governmental groups and neighboring countries have also provided aid and support.

The recovery efforts in Derna include the burials of the dead, with over 3,000 bodies already buried and another 2,000 being processed. Search and rescue teams are still searching for survivors and recovering bodies in the city center and the surrounding sea. The floods have displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna and damaged access roads, making it challenging for international aid teams to reach the affected areas.

To respond to the urgent needs of those affected, the United Nations has issued an emergency appeal for $71.4 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross has provided body bags and other supplies to local authorities, while international aid from neighboring countries has started to arrive in Benghazi. The situation remains critical, and the focus is on providing immediate assistance and support to the affected population.