The death toll from the devastating floods in Libya’s city of Derna has surged to over 1,500, as revealed by a minister who visited the area. Derna, with its population of around 100,000, now finds much of its territory submerged due to the collapse of two dams and four bridges. Tragically, as a consequence of Storm Daniel, the Red Crescent reports that approximately 10,000 individuals are unaccounted for. This destructive storm, which struck on Sunday, is also wreaking havoc in other eastern cities such as Benghazi, Soussa, and Al-Marj.
The health minister for eastern Libya has reported that at least 700 recovered bodies have been laid to rest. However, Derna’s ambulance authority estimates the current death toll to be at 2,300. Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has cautioned that the actual toll is likely to be much higher, possibly reaching into the thousands. Speaking during a U.N. briefing in Geneva via videoconference from Tunisia, Ramadan emphasized that no less than 10,000 people are still unaccounted for. He likened the situation in Libya to the devastation witnessed in Morocco following a deadly earthquake near Marrakesh.
The calamity befell Derna and other parts of eastern Libya on a fateful Sunday night when Storm Daniel relentlessly battered the coastline. Residents recounted hearing loud explosions and realizing that the dams outside the city had given way, unleashing flash floods along Wadi Derna, a river coursing from the mountains through the city and into the sea. Videos shared online by residents depicted vast swaths of mud and debris where the surging waters had obliterated residential neighborhoods on both sides of the river. High-rise apartment buildings that were once set back from the river now displayed torn facades and collapsed concrete floors. Cars swept away by the deluge were left piled atop one another.
In response to this tragedy, Gagnon, an official, expressed profound sadness at the severe impact of Storm Daniel on Libya and pledged to deploy an emergency response team to support local authorities and partners in the region. He urged all local, national, and international partners to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to those affected by this dire situation.
Furthermore, U.S. Special Envoy to Libya Ambassador Richard Norland declared that the American embassy in Tripoli had issued an official declaration of humanitarian need in response to the catastrophic floods in Libya. This declaration authorizes initial funding from the United States to aid relief efforts in Libya. Last week, the same storm system wreaked havoc in the southeastern Mediterranean, resulting in the loss of at least 26 lives in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, according to reports from The Washington Post