- About 10,000 individuals are reported missing, with Libya’s flood disaster displacing over 20,000 people.
- Mediterranean storm Daniel unleashed havoc on Sunday night, triggering flash floods.
- The entire road and bridge network in the city of Derna has collapsed.
The eastern city of Derna has gone into mourning after Libya’s flood disaster left about 10,000 people missing. Rescue teams have embarked on recovery efforts for the remains of loved ones as the scale of the disaster unfolds. Media reports say authorities estimate that close to 2,000 people have lost their lives in the Derna area alone.
The Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU) has issued a heartbreaking report stating that the entire road and bridge network in Derna has collapsed. This now calls for an estimated $67 million for reconstruction.
Libya’s flood disaster
Hussein Suweidan, head of the Roads and Bridges Department of the GNU, told AlJazeera that a technical team will assess the extent of the damage. Libya’s Red Crescent also reports grim statistics, confirming over 2,000 casualties, 9,000 individuals missing, and an additional 20,000 people displaced due to the floods. Meanwhile, based in Benghazi, the eastern administration estimates that the death toll may reach as high as 3,000.
The Mediterranean storm Daniel unleashed havoc on Sunday night, triggering flash floods that overwhelmed many towns in eastern Libya. However, Derna bore the brunt of this natural calamity, enduring heavy rainfall and floods that breached dams and swept entire neighborhoods.
“The number of bodies recovered in Derna is more [than] 1,000,” Hichem Chkiouat, the aviation minister and part of the eastern government’s emergency response committee, told Reuters.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 per cent of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
At a UN briefing in Geneva, Tamer Ramadan, Libya’s envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, reported that a staggering 10,000 people were missing during this unprecedented catastrophe.
North Africa’s twin disasters
The death toll could rise in the coming days, casting a dark shadow over the city. Libyan tragedy echoes Morocco’s devastating earthquake that left nearly 3,000 people dead on the other side of North Africa.
Eastern Libya’s Prime Minister, Ossama Hamad, said that floods could have swept many of the missing away when two upstream dams burst. The scale of destruction in Derna far exceeds the region’s capabilities, exacerbating the population’s plight.
This disaster has struck a country with over a decade of internal conflict and division. Years of civil war have left Libya with crumbling infrastructure and disaster emergency preparedness.
Emergency responders, including government workers, volunteers, and residents, are trying to recover the deceased. Explosions in the night signaled the collapse of dams outside the city, sending torrents of water that obliterated everything in its path.
Bodies scattered throughout Derna City
The situation remains dire, with access to Derna hampered and bodies scattered throughout the city. The death will possibly exceed 2,000 as search and rescue teams navigate the rubble.
An international intervention has been deemed necessary to help address the magnitude of this catastrophe. The storm, which also hit Bayda, Marj, and Shahatt areas, has led to approximately 50 reported deaths in Bayda town.
Medical facilities, including the main hospital, were hit, forcing the evacuation of patients. Other towns, such as Susa and Marj, also suffered, displacing hundreds of families who sought refuge in government buildings.
The northeastern region of Libya, including Derna, is known for its rich soils. However, it has become the epicenter of tragedy and resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity.