In a heart-wrenching turn of events, the coastal city of Derna, Libya, finds itself grappling with the devastating aftermath of a catastrophic flood. The deluge, which followed the breach of two aging dams during an unusually severe Mediterranean storm named Daniel, has left a staggering death toll of 11,300.
The Libyan Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization, revealed the alarming figures, indicating that an additional 10,100 individuals remain unaccounted for in the Mediterranean city. These numbers significantly surpass earlier estimates by health authorities, who had initially reported the death toll at 5,500.
The calamity, which unfolded on a fateful Sunday night, resulted in the utter destruction of countless families and revealed critical vulnerabilities in a nation that has long grappled with internal strife since the 2011 uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.
The Two Dam’s Neglected Past
The two dams responsible for this catastrophe had been standing since the 1970s. Startlingly, a report by a state-run audit agency in 2021 had pointed out their lack of maintenance. Astonishingly, despite the allocation of over 2 million euros for upkeep in 2012 and 2013, no action had been taken.
In response to the widespread outrage, Libya’s Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah acknowledged the maintenance neglect during a Cabinet meeting, further prompting the Public Prosecutor to initiate an urgent investigation into the dams’ collapse.
Unprecedented Unity in Response
The disaster triggered an unusual moment of unity, as government agencies from across the nation rallied to aid the beleaguered areas. While the east-based Tobruk government spearheads relief efforts, the western-based Tripoli government earmarked an equivalent of $412 million for the reconstruction of Derna and other affected eastern towns. An armed group in Tripoli also dispatched a convoy laden with humanitarian aid.
As Derna grapples with the overwhelming loss, mass burials have commenced under the stewardship of eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel. By Thursday morning, over 3,000 bodies had been laid to rest, with another 2,000 yet to be processed. The majority found their final resting place in mass graves just outside Derna, while some were transferred to neighboring towns and cities.
Rescue teams continue to sift through the wreckage in the city center, while divers scour the sea off Derna’s coast. The sheer volume of mud, debris, and massive blocks of concrete—some reaching up to four meters (13 feet) in height—leaves the possibility that numerous victims remain undiscovered.
A Rising Death Toll with Dire Consequences
The Libyan Red Crescent’s confirmation of 11,300 casualties is deeply distressing. Moreover, local officials fear the actual death toll may be substantially higher. Derna’s Mayor, Abdel-Moneim al-Ghaithi, hinted that the count could ultimately climb to a staggering 20,000, considering the number of neighborhoods completely washed away by the deluge.
This heart-wrenching storm didn’t spare other parts of eastern Libya. The death toll in towns like Bayda, Susa, Um Razaz, and Marj stands at around 170, according to the health minister. Additionally, the disaster claimed the lives of at least 84 Egyptians, with over 70 hailing from a single village in the southern province of Beni Suef. Tragically, reports also emerged of numerous Sudanese migrants falling victim to the catastrophe.
As the nation grapples with the staggering loss of life, more than 30,000 individuals in Derna have been displaced, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. Several thousand others have been forced to abandon their homes in other eastern towns, further underlining the sheer magnitude of the disaster.
The flooding in Derna is a stark reminder of the immense challenges Libya faces, compounded by the persistent conflict that has plagued the nation. As the search for missing individuals continues, the world watches with a heavy heart as this coastal city grapples with an unfathomable tragedy.
For the coastal city of Derna, the journey toward recovery will be long and arduous, with the memory of this calamity forever etched into its history.
Intriguing Points of Interest You Should Know
How many people killed in Derna?
Estimates of the number of lives lost in Derna vary significantly. The latest official death toll, as provided by the health minister of the eastern-based administration, Othman Abdeljalil, stands at 3,166 casualties. However, a recent United Nations report, released on Sunday, paints a far grimmer picture, revealing that the death toll in Derna alone has surged to a devastating 11,300 lives lost.
How many people died in the flooding in Libya?
The death toll resulting from the flooding in Libya is subject to varying figures. According to the World Health Organization, hospitals have recorded a total of 3,958 deaths. However, the head of Libya’s Red Crescent previously reported a far more staggering death toll, with at least 11,300 lives lost. Additionally, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that a minimum of 9,000 people remain unaccounted for.
What happened in Libya with flooding?
The flooding in Libya had devastating consequences, resulting in a significant loss of life and numerous individuals still unaccounted for. According to the United Nations, the toll stands at over 5,000 Libyans who tragically lost their lives, while an alarming figure of more than 10,000 individuals remains missing. The force of the deluge was so immense that it swept away entire populations, and in some harrowing cases, entire buildings, with the grim aftermath of dead bodies continuing to wash ashore even days later.
What caused the flooding in Libya 2023?
The flooding in Libya in 2023 was triggered by Mediterranean Storm Daniel, which swept through eastern Libya during the weekend of September 9th. This powerful storm brought torrential rains, leading to extensive flooding and widespread devastation in the region.
Why did so many died in Libya?
The devastating loss of life in Libya, particularly in Derna, can be attributed to the catastrophic flooding. In an initial report on Saturday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that at least 11,300 individuals had tragically perished. This figure was sourced from the Libyan Red Crescent. Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, emphasized the credibility of the figures, stating, “We’re going with figures just verified by WHO.”
What is the population of Derna Libya?
Derna, Libya, is home to an estimated population of approximately 100,000 people. This coastal city is not only known for its population but also for its picturesque location along the Mediterranean coast, framed by some of the few green forests in this arid region of Libya.