Devastating but, above all, deadly floods have devastated Libya. Footage from residents of the eastern part of the country shows huge mudslides and entire districts flooded with water.
On Sunday and Monday, Libya experienced flooding caused by the Daniel low pressure that swept over the Mediterranean Sea. The same element, also causing floods, affected Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria last week. A total of 27 people died in these countries.
“In the Libyan coastal town of Derna, 2,000 people may have been killed and thousands more are believed to be missing,” Ossama Hamad, the head of the government who controls the eastern part of the country, told al-Masar TV station in a telephone interview. He added that the floods washed away entire districts of the city with over 100,000 inhabitants. Rescue teams were sent there on Sunday.
As Reuters wrote, Hamad did not provide the source of his data, and the agency was unable to verify it. In an interview with Reuters, Kais Fhakeri from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said there were “at least 150 deaths in Derna after the building collapse.” – We expect the number of dead to increase to 250. The situation is catastrophic – he said.
Earlier, authorities associated with Prime Minister Hamad officially reported 27 fatalities, although – according to the Associated Press – these statistics did not include Derna. The AFP news agency earlier on Monday reported 150 deaths in the city, in the Jabal al-Akhdar plateau region and in the suburbs of the city of Marj.
There may be thousands missing
Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls the eastern part of the country, told a televised news conference that the floods occurred after dams near Derna collapsed, “sweeping entire neighborhoods and residents into the sea.” According to him, there may be between five and six thousand people missing.
After the overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya plunged into chaos that continues to this day. The government in Tripoli does not control the entire territory of the country, which is divided by warring centers of power and numerous armed groups.
Libya’s parliament declared three days of national mourning.
Flooded cities, collapsed buildings and roads
Other Libyan coastal cities were also affected by flooding, including Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, where a curfew was imposed and schools were closed.
According to Reuters, the floods caused “significant material damage.” Libya’s four main oil ports were closed for three days from Saturday evening.
Footage shared online by residents of cities in the east of the country, such as Derna and Al-Bajda, show huge mudslides and entire districts flooded with water, as well as collapsed roads and buildings.
– People were sleeping, woke up and saw their houses surrounded by water – Derna resident Saleh al-Obaidi told Reuters. He added that he managed to escape the flood with his family, but houses located lower near the city collapsed.
Main photo source: Reuters/Omar Jarhman