Mediterranean storm Daniel hit Libya on Sunday causing extreme weather and flooding that is said to have possibly killed about 2,000 people.
According to the interior minister in the eastern government, Essam Abu Zariba, there are possibly 5,000 people missing. The death toll and missing person count is hard to determine since people were most likely taken by the current towards the Mediterranean.
Flooding and mudslides in Derna have swallowed neighborhoods and washed them away where floodwaters reached as high as 10 feet. The currents carried vehicles and debris and destroyed phone lines causing complications in rescue efforts, according to the head of Libya’s Emergency and Ambulance authority, Osama Aly.
Aly also told CNN that rescue workers are not able to get into Derna because of the damage. Without electricity or communication networks, it is difficult to send help to those still stuck.
Ashahan Belaoun, a Libyan lawmaker who has relatives in the city of Derna told the Washington Post that she is not even sure if her family survived, “All I know is that their buildings are gone.”
The Associated Press reported that health authorities in Libya confirmed only 61 deaths from the flooding as of late Monday, but it does not include Derna since it is unable to be searched.
Authorities have declared a state of extreme emergency according to the Wall Street Journal, and schools and stores have been closed. A curfew has also been implemented.
Authorities did not anticipate the intensity of what was to come, according to Aly.
Two dams collapsed under the pressure of rushing water. Libya, which is split between two rival governments in the east and west, was already dealing with unstable infrastructure due to the ongoing civil war that started after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi, according to the Washington Post.
Derna is left without electricity or communication networks which made it extremely difficult to verify the number of deaths as well as calculate the extent of damage the storm caused.
The Washington Post reported Libya’s National Center of Meteorology announced rainfall totals of more than 16 inches of rain over 24 hours in Bayda.
Last week the same storm flooded parts of Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Turkey is expected to send 150 search and rescue personnel with tents, rescue vehicles, and other supplies to help aid Libya. The storm is also linked to the extreme weather and floods in Spain as well as boiling temperatures in western Europe, breaking temperature records.
What is left of the storm is still looming over northern parts of Libya and will head east towards northern Egypt.
The Libyan Red Crescent expects the death toll to rise as the days go on.
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