HomeWorldMassive Storm Devastates Libya: 10,000 Missing, Over 1,000 Dead in Derna Alone

Massive Storm Devastates Libya: 10,000 Missing, Over 1,000 Dead in Derna Alone

A massive storm on Tuesday destroyed homes, ruptured dams, and inundated Derna in Libya, leaving at least 10,000 people missing.

Storm Daniel crossed the Mediterranean into a country fractured and collapsing after over a decade of strife. Officials retrieved over 1,000 dead in Derna alone and expected a much higher death toll.

During the drive to Derna, a reporter observed overturned cars, downed trees, and abandoned flooded homes in the seaside city with around 125,000 residents.

After dams burst, videos showed a wide river tearing across the city’s centre, destroying the structures on either side.

Hichem Abu Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation in the administration that administers the east, told shortly after entering Derna, “Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings.”

He stated that they had recovered over 1,000 bodies in Derna. When I say that 25% of the city has vanished, I’m not exaggerating. “Many, many buildings have collapsed.”

In a later interview with Al Jazeera, Abu Chkiouat predicted that more than 2,500 people would have died nationwide. Additionally, he noted that an increasing number of individuals were still missing.

The storm also affected Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, and other eastern cities. Tamer Ramadan, head of a delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, predicted a “huge” death toll.

By way of a video link, he informed the media, “We can confirm from our independent sources of information that the number of missing people is hitting 10,000 so far.”

Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN’s relief efforts, announced on X (formerly Twitter) that emergency teams are mobilizing to offer ground assistance.

In Derna, distressed residents rushed home to find their loved ones. Meanwhile, Turkey and other nations rushed supplies to Libya, including search and rescue trucks, rescue boats, generators, and food.

At Tripoli airport in northwest Libya, a woman received a call that brought her to loud sobs. The call conveyed the devastating news that the majority of her family members were either dead or missing. “We are not speaking about one or two people dead, but up to 10 members of each family dead,” her brother-in-law Walid Abdulati added.

“I have never felt as terrified as I do right now,” admitted Karim al-Obaidi, a passenger on a flight from Tripoli to the east. I lost touch with every member of my family, friends, and neighbours.

Naval personnel were looking for the “many families that were swept into the sea in the city of Derna,” a spokesperson for the interior ministry told Al Jazeera.

The Libyan TV channel Al-Masar aired footage of people searching for bodies. They showed men in a rubber boat retrieving one from the water.

Ambulance worker Khalifah Touil stated we are requesting urgent help because we have no equipment to save people.

A seasonal river that runs from the highlands to the south bisects Derna, which is on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast. Dams typically prevent flooding in Derna.

A video on social media displayed a collapsed dam. Its remnants surrounded sizable pools of mud-colored water, situated 11.5 km (7 miles) upstream of the city. This was where two river valleys met.

The seasonal riverbed, or wadi, which frequently floods, according to hydrologist Abdelwanees A. R. Ashoor of Libya’s Omar Al-Mukhtar University, poses a threat to Derna. He demanded immediate action to ensure the dams are regularly maintained and listed five floods that have occurred since 1942.

According to the paper, “If a huge flood happens the result will be catastrophic for the people of the wadi and the city.”

Pope Francis, like many world leaders, expressed profound sadness over the loss of life and destruction in Libya.

Since the 2011 popular revolt supported by NATO, which ignited years of factional conflict, Libya has been politically divided between the East and West. This division has led to the deterioration of public services.

Although lacking authority over eastern regions, the internationally recognized government in Tripoli has dispatched aid to Derna. At least one relief flight departed from the western city of Misrata on Tuesday.

According to Norway’s Refugee Council, tens of thousands of people were displaced, and they had no hope of returning home.

In some of Libya’s most underprivileged coastal areas, our on-ground team is witnessing a dire situation. The floodwaters have submerged entire villages, and the death toll is rising, it reported.

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