The scale of the destruction to Derna in Libya, the port city where two dams burst over the weekend, became increasingly apparent on Tuesday when the Red Cross announced that ten thousand people had been reported missing due to the extraordinary flooding in Libya.
During a briefing held by the United Nations in Geneva, Tamer Ramadan, the Libya ambassador for the International Federation of Red Cross as well as Red Crescent Societies, provided the figure and described the death toll as “huge.”
According to Tariq Al-Kharraz, a spokesman for the government that administers the east of Libya, the number of fatalities has risen to almost 5,200. Local media reported this information. The minister of health for this administration, Othman Abdel Jalil, has stated that he anticipates that number would double. “The number of people missing is in the thousands, and the number of dead is expected to reach 10,000,” Othman Abdel Jalil said in an interview with the Al-Massar TV channel.
In Derna, entire neighborhoods have been obliterated by the flooding. Over seven hundred dead remains have been stacked up in the cemetery in anticipation of being identified.
“The situation in the city of Derna is becoming more tragic, and there are no final statistics on the number of victims,” Jalil said. “[T]here is no way to know how many people have been killed.” “There were a great number of neighborhoods that were inaccessible.”
The Minister of Civil Aviation, Hichem Chkiouat, stated that the current situation in Derna was a catastrophe. Chkiouat told Reuters over the phone after returning from a trip to the city, “Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings,” he said. When I say that twenty-five percent of the city has vanished, I am not exaggerating the situation. Numerous, countless buildings have been leveled.
He went on to say that the ultimate tally would be “really, really big.”
Citizens were pleading for help on social media, hoping that someone would have knowledge on their loved ones who had gone missing. Many people were frustrated by how slowly the rescue effort was progressing, and investigations had begun into whether or not previous warnings had been issued that the Wadi dams in the city required rebuilding.
A paper that was published in 2022 in an academic journal issued a warning that in the event that a flood similar to the one that occurred in 1959 occurred again, it would “likely cause one of the two dams to collapse, making the residents of the valley and the city of Derna vulnerable due to a high risk of flooding.”
rich in oil Since an uprising in 2011 that ousted and eventually resulted in the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the longstanding ruler of Libya, the country has been torn apart by political infighting, corruption, and involvement from outside parties. Two competing governments, each supported by their own militias, are currently situated in Tripoli in the west and Tobruk in the east of Libya. Efforts to construct a single, cohesive, and functional government date back more than a decade but have been unsuccessful.
The amount of money put into roads and other public services has decreased, and there has been very little supervision of the private construction industry.
The head of Government of National Unity, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, who is based in Tripoli, stated on Tuesday that an emergency medical supply plane was headed to Benghazi to support the areas that were affected by the flood. The plane was carrying 14 tons of supplies, medication, equipment, body bags, and 87 medical and paramedic personnel. In addition, the plane was carrying body bags.
The warlord in control of an army in the east, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, also announced that aid was on its way.
Because of the floods that was produced by Storm Daniel, Derna was completely unable to communicate with the outside world and did not have access to the internet. Entire communities that were located on the banks of a swollen river had been obliterated and destroyed by the floodwaters.
The residents were not immediately given any notice that the dams may have ruptured, increasing the risk of flooding. Engineers had in the past provided broad warnings about the potential for the dams to burst as well as the critical requirement to immediately upgrade their defenses.
People could be heard yelling and crying for assistance in the video footage that was shared around social media platforms as the murky water enveloped their homes. Other videos showed torrents washing away cars that were driving on roadways that had been transformed into rivers.
Hudhayfah al-Hasadi, a local native, was quoted by Al-Hurra as saying that the depths of some of the valleys in which water collects exceed approximately 400 meters. Because of this, when the dam gave way, the water gushed out like an atomic bomb, causing the full collapse of eight bridges and residential buildings.
According to Osama Ali, a spokeswoman for the Libyan Emergency Authority, “all of the water headed to a region near Derna, which is a hilly coastline area… Strong currents of murky water that carried automobiles and debris were responsible for the destruction of homes in the valleys that were located near the flood line.
He went on to say that “Weather conditions were not studied well, sea water levels, rainfall, and wind speed,” and that “there was no evacuation of families who could have been in the path of the storm and in the valleys.”
There were contradictory accounts regarding whether or whether pleas had been made to evacuate the city over the weekend, and if so, with the reasons why the plan had been refused.