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Tragedy Strikes: Libya Floods Claim Over 11,300 Lives, Thousands Still Missing

In recent weeks, Libya has been grappling with an unprecedented natural disaster - devastating floods that have wreaked havoc on the nation. What started as heavy rainfall quickly escalated into a catastrophic event, claiming the lives of over 11,300 people and leaving thousands still missing. The scale of destruction and loss is difficult to comprehend as communities are left shattered, infrastructure demolished, and families torn apart.

The death toll from devastating floods in eastern Libya has surpassed 11,000, according to the Libyan Red Crescent, as rescuers work to understand the full scope of the disaster.


As of Saturday, the bodies of nearly 4,000 people have been recovered and identified, says the World Health Organization. More than 9,000 people are still missing, according to WHO which is working with the Libyan Ministry of Health to track the dead and missing.


"This is a disaster of epic proportions," Dr. Ahmed Zouiten, a WHO representative in Libya, said in a statement.


The Libyan government, along with international aid organizations, has mobilized resources and personnel to provide assistance to the affected communities. Rescue teams, medical professionals, and humanitarian workers are working tirelessly to provide essential supplies, medical care, and support to those in need. However, the challenges are immense, with damaged infrastructure hindering access to remote areas and limited resources stretching the capacity to respond effectively.


Derna was the worst affected following the collapse of two dams, which wiped out a quarter of the area. Derna has been declared a disaster zone, with electricity and communication having been cut off, according to local officials. 

Entire neighborhoods in Derna have disappeared, along with their residents, who have been swept away by water after the two aging structures collapsed, creating a catastrophic situation that is out of control”, said WFP. 


The head of Libya's eastern parliament-backed government, Osama Hamad, told reporters that the authorities would take precautionary measures that might include sealing off the city of Derna for fear of the spread of diseases.


The satellite pictures show dirt and debris stretching out to sea into Derna’s shallow waters, which appeared visibly brown near the shoreline. Many bodies washed out to sea have come back with the tide, rescue workers say.


The floods have displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration, and several thousand others were forced to leave their homes in other eastern towns, it said.


Bridges and other basic infrastructure have also been wiped out, especially buildings near the Wadi Derna river. Two dams collapsed, releasing an estimated 30 million cubic meters of water into the city. Other towns and cities were also affected.


The immediate cause was extreme rain: the equivalent of a year’s rainfall in 24 hours. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, recorded many areas in Libya receiving 150–240 millimeters of precipitation. The town of Al-Bayda reported 414.1 millimeters in 24 hours, a record. On average, Derna gets 274 millimeters of rain per year, according to the German Weather Service.


As the nation grapples with this tragic event, the focus has shifted to the ongoing search and rescue efforts to find those who are still unaccounted for. Rescue teams from both local and international organizations have been tirelessly working around the clock, braving treacherous conditions to locate and save survivors


A team from the Geneva-based UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) operation, part of humanitarian coordination office OCHA, has been deployed to support response and relief operations. 


Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, announced on Tuesday an initial allocation of $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support those affected by the floods.


Speaking to reporters earlier at UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres said that the UN was ready to “work in any and every way we can with partners to help get emergency assistance to those who so desperately need it.”


The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday it had despatched its first shipment of food assistance to Libya in the wake of the floods which have left more than 10,000 injured or missing. 


In coming days, WFP aims to reach more than 5,000 families whose lives were turned upside down when the dams burst after being hammered by Hurricane Daniel over the weekend.


The recent devastating floods in Libya have left the nation in a state of shock and mourning. As the death toll continues to rise, reaching over 11,300 lives lost, the focus now turns to understanding the causes and factors that contributed to the severity of this natural disaster.


Heavy rains caused by Mediterranean storm, Daniel caused deadly flooding across eastern Libya last weekend. The floods overwhelmed two dams, sending a wall of water several meters high through the center of Derna, destroying entire neighborhoods and sweeping people out to sea.


Another contributing factor was the lack of proper infrastructure to manage such extreme weather events. Libya, like many countries in the region, faces challenges in terms of its drainage systems, flood protection measures, and urban planning. Insufficient investment in infrastructure development and maintenance has left communities vulnerable to the impacts of heavy rainfall and flooding.


Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Libya has hindered efforts to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. The instability and displacement caused by the conflict have disrupted the country's ability to respond effectively to emergencies. 


In order to prevent future tragedies of this magnitude, it is imperative for governments and stakeholders to prioritize investments in infrastructure development, disaster preparedness, and climate change adaptation. Improved drainage systems, early warning systems, and effective urban planning can help mitigate the impacts of heavy rainfall and reduce the risk to vulnerable communities.


As Libya mourns the loss of thousands of lives and continues the search for those still missing, it is essential that lessons are learned from this tragic event. By understanding the causes and contributing factors, and taking proactive measures to address them, we can strive towards a more resilient and disaster-resistant future.

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Tags: #Floods #Derna #Libyafloods


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