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Business News/ News / World/  Libya flood updates: Death toll in Derna rises to over 11,000. 10 points

Libya flood updates: Death toll in Derna rises to over 11,000. 10 points

Libya flood death toll in Derna reaches 11,300, but local officials suggest it could be higher. Storm caused deadly flooding. Rescue efforts continue as bodies are buried and search for missing continues. International aid and support provided. UN issues emergency appeal for funding.

A view shows the damaged areas, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya, September 13, 2023. (Image: picture obtained from social media. Marwan Alfaituri/via Reuters)Premium
A view shows the damaged areas, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya, September 13, 2023. (Image: picture obtained from social media. Marwan Alfaituri/via Reuters)

Libya flood updates: The Libyan Red Crescent said that the death toll in Libya's coastal city of Derna has soared to 11,300 as the search efforts continue. However, local officials suggested that the death toll could be much higher than announced, The Associated Press has reported. Daniel, an unusually strong Mediterranean storm, caused deadly flooding in communities across eastern Libya, the worst-hit was Derna. As the storm pounded the coast on Sunday night, two dams outside the city collapsed causing floodwaters to gush down Wadi Derna, a valley that cuts through the city, crashing through buildings and washing people out to sea. 

More than 3,000 bodies were buried by Thursday morning, eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel said, adding that while another 2,000 were still being processed. He also added that most of the dead were buried in mass graves outside Derna, while others were transferred to nearby towns and cities. Abduljaleel said rescue teams were still searching wrecked buildings in the city center, and divers were combing the sea off Derna. Untold numbers could be buried under drifts of mud and debris, including overturned cars and chunks of concrete, that rise up to four meters (13 feet) high. Rescuers have struggled to bring in heavy equipment as the floods washed out or blocked roads leading to the area.

Here are Top 10 points you need

1. Marie el-Drese, the aid group's secretary-general, told The Associated Press on phone that 10,100 people are reported missing in the Mediterranean city. 

2. A UN official said Thursday that most casualties could have been avoided “if there would have been a normal operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings," World Meteorological Organization head Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva as quoted by AP. "The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out the evacuation." It however, said that that the National Meteorological Center issued warnings 72 hours before the flooding, notifying all governmental authorities by email and through media.

3. Officials in eastern Libya warned the public about the coming storm, and on Saturday, they ordered residents to evacuate coastal areas, fearing a surge from the sea. But there was no warning about the dams collapsing.

4. Libyans from across the fragmented country have driven through old front lines regardless of bitter enmities to deliver aid to flood-stricken Derna this week, putting aside years of conflict between their divided leaders.

5. Biltrees activist group hired buses and vans to bring more than 100 volunteers from western parts of Libya to the far eastern city of Derna early on Monday, embarking on a 15-hour drive even before the full scale of the disaster was clear.

6. Conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising has ripped apart many communities in Libya, pitted cities against each other and divided the entire country after 2014 between rival governments in the east and west. Despite a 2020 ceasefire that ended most major warfare, allowing roads and flights to reopen between the main opposing areas, territory remains controlled by rival armed factions and there is no unified authority governing the whole country.

7. Oil-rich Libya has been divided between rival governments for most of the past decade one in the east, the other in the capital, Tripoli and one result has been the widespread neglect of infrastructure. 

8. The two dams that collapsed outside Derna were built in the 1970s. A report by a state-run audit agency in 2021 said the dams had not been maintained despite the allocation of more than 2 million euros for that purpose in 2012 and 2013.

9. Libya's Tripoli-based prime minister, Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah, acknowledged the maintenance issues during a Cabinet meeting held on Thursday and called on the Public Prosecutor to open an urgent investigation into the dams' collapse. The disaster brought a rare moment of unity, as government agencies across the country rushed to help the affected areas, AP reported.

10. While the Tobruk-based government of eastern Libya is leading relief efforts, the Tripoli-based western government allocated the equivalent of $412 million for reconstruction in Derna and other eastern towns, and an armed group in Tripoli sent a convoy with humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, The UN humanitarian office issued an emergency appeal for $71.4 million to respond to urgent needs of 250,000 Libyans most affected. The office, known as OCHA, estimated that approximately 884,000 people in five provinces live in areas directly affected by the rain and flooding. The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it has provided 6,000 body bags to local authorities, as well as medical, food and other supplies distributed to hard-hit communities. International aid started to arrive earlier this week in Benghazi, 250 kilometers (150 miles) west of Derna. Several countries have sent aid and rescue teams, including neighboring Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia. Italy dispatched a naval vessel on Thursday carrying humanitarian aid and two navy helicopters to be used for search and rescue operations. President Joe Biden also said the United States would send money to relief organizations and coordinate with Libyan authorities and the United Nations to provide additional support.

(With inputs from Associated Press)

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Updated: 15 Sep 2023, 06:34 AM IST
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