Libyan Floods Kill over 11,000 as Thousands Remain Missing

Libyan Floods Kill over 11,000 as Thousands Remain Missing


Tragedy Strikes

Libya has experienced extensive destruction after two dams broke Monday during Mediterranean Storm Daniel, sending water several metres high down a valley that goes through the middle of the Libyan city of Derna. Prior to the flooding, Derna had a population of 100,000 people.

As rescue efforts continue, over 11,000 people have been reported to be dead. A good portion of the city’s population is accounted for, however authorities are worrying that well over 10,000 could still be missing.

Washed out vehicles litter the streets of Derna, Libya. Surviving residents reported watching as other residents were washed away as water completely overtook many of the smaller buildings. One resident reported water rose up to the fourth floor of his building. As well as the cars littered amongst the streets rescuers reported bodies in far greater numbers all over the city streets. (Photo from Jamal Alkomaty/AP Photo).

The Search and its Problems

Rescue efforts, though ongoing, are being complicated by a number of factors. Namely, when the flood initially happened it took out a lot of the bridges and roadways that led into Derna, making it difficult to get both supplies and personnel into the city. It was largely due to this that aid did not reach the city until 36 hours after flooding struck.

Additionally, Derna is a coastal city, and reportedly a large number of bodies have been washed away into the ocean, some of which are washing back up on shore. Regional Forensics Manager for Africa of the Red Cross, Bilal Sablouh, said “in just two hours, one of my colleagues counted over 200 bodies on the beach near Derna”.

A larger look at the city, showcasing the infrastructure damage sustained (Photo from Jamal Alkomaty/AP Photo).

Derna is under control of the Eastern Libyan forces, headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. Eastern Libya’s weaker central government has also been causing issues in search efforts, as the lack of oversight of rescue efforts has caused rescuers to search and deliver supplies to some areas of the city, but not others, where residents had to attempt to dig themselves and others out with little outside help.

Given the amount of bodies sent into the ocean, Libya has deployed divers to comb the coastline in their search.

A satellite view showing the destruction in Derna (Photo from Planet Labs PBC Via AP).

Little Hopes

Although rescue efforts continue, hopes are not high for finding many of those still missing to be alive.

Already, Eastern Libyan authorities have began burying those found dead in mass graves. Derna residents were also promised evacuation today, September 15th, however seemingly no such evacuations have taken place.

International organizations have warned of the risk of disease if residents are not supplied with safe water, due to the extensive amount of still water left by the floods.

As it presently stands, Derna has lost at least a tenth of its population.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.
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