Two dams that collapsed in north-east Libya due to heavy rainfall have left more than 5,000 dead or missing. The water has swollen already saturated areas.
Tamer RAMADAN, who is the leader of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ delegation to Libya, revealed the total number of missing individuals during a Tuesday press briefing in Geneva. She told journalists that “the death toll” was huge.
According to the state-run media LANA, at least 5,300 are considered dead by the interior ministry. CNN has been unable to independently confirm whether there are dead or missing.
On Tuesday, Tobruk officials said that 145 people were Egyptian.
Othman Abduljalil of Libya’s Eastern Administration, the health minister, said that in Derna’s east, the place where most of the destruction has taken place, 6,000 missing people still remain, according to Almasar TV. The situation was described as “catastrophic” by Abduljalil when he made a tour of the city.
The authorities believe whole neighborhoods were washed from the city.
Osama ALY, Emergency and Ambulance spokesperson, says that the hospitals and morgues of Derna have ceased to function.
CNN has reported dead bodies left out on the street outside morgues.
Emergency services cannot be provided on-site. “People are collecting the bodies that have rotted,” Anas barghathy told a Derna-based doctor who is currently a volunteer.
All of us are terrified
CNN interviewed relatives of Derna residents who said they were scared after watching videos showing the flooding and not hearing from their loved ones.
Ayah is a Palestinian with cousins who live in Derna. She said they have been difficult to reach since the floods.
“I am really concerned about them.” “I’m really worried about them.” At this stage, I am not certain if these people are alive. It appears that all communication is down. I find it very scary to watch the videos from Derna. We’re all terrified,” the woman said.
Emad Milad said eight relatives of his, who live in Tobrok died from the flooding that occurred in Derna.
The sister of my wife Areej and her husband have both died. Seine entire family has also died. All eight of his family members are gone. It is a tragedy. It’s disaster. On Tuesday, he stated that he was praying for better results.
The weather can be a ‘ferocious’ condition
The precipitation that has hit several cities across the North East of Libya is the result a strong low-pressure systems which brought devastating floods to Greece last weekend and then moved on into the Mediterranean, before developing into what we call a medicane, a tropical like cyclone.
Climate disasters have been unprecedented this year, with extreme weather events ranging from deadly wildfires through to oppressive temperatures.
The Mediterranean has a temperature that is far above the average. According to scientists, this high-temperature climate is what caused the hurricane’s torrential rain.
Karsten Haustein is a climate researcher and meteorologist in Leipzig University. He told Science Media Center that the warmer water did not just increase rainfall intensity but made storms more intense.
Libya’s extreme weather vulnerability is made worse by the long-running, bitter political struggle in Libya between two opposing administrations.
Abdulhamid Dbeibeh and the UN-backed Government of National Unity are based in Tripoli (northwest Libya), while their eastern rivals, Khalifa haftar, his Libyan National Army(LNA), and Osama al-Hamad’s parliament based in east Libya, control it.
Haftar’s administration is in control of Derna (which lies about 300 kilometers east of Benghazi).
Leslie Mabon a lecturer on Environmental Systems from The Open University told Science Media Center: “The country’s complicated politics pose challenges in developing risk communication strategies and hazard-assessment, as well as coordinating rescue efforts and maintaining critical infrastructure, such dams”.
Officials said on Tuesday that two dams collapsed, causing water to rush towards Derna. This caused catastrophic damage.
“Three of the bridges are destroyed.” Ahmed Mismari (LNA spokesperson) said that the flowing waters carried entire neighborhoods into the ocean.
Aly the spokesperson of Emergency and Ambulance authorities said strong muddy streams were washing away homes and other debris in valleys.
Aly said CNN that there are no phone lines available in Derna. This is complicating efforts to rescue people, as workers cannot get into the city due to its heavy destruction.
Aly says authorities failed to anticipate the size of the disaster.
He stated that “the weather conditions weren’t studied very well. Seawater levels and rain [weren’t studied], wind speeds and there wasn’t any evacuation for families in the valleys or near the storm path.”
“Libya is not ready for a tragedy like this.” Before, it had never seen a disaster of that magnitude. Aly explained to Al Hurra Channel that we are admitting mistakes, even though it is the first instance of such an extreme catastrophe.
Storm is one of deadliest ever recorded in North Africa
Hamad the head the Eastern Administration, told the Libyan News Agency that Libya faces an unprecedented situation.
Mismari Mismari was the LNA spokesperson. She said floods affected several towns, such as Al-Bayda Al-Marj Tobruk Takenis Al-Bayada Battah. They also affected the coast of the eastern side all the to Benghazi. A total of 37 residential houses were lost to the ocean.
Mismari declared, “We were not prepared for the scale of destruction which we saw.”
Libyan Authorities need to form three types of special search teams: teams to retrieve bodies under rubble from canyons and valleys; teams to locate bodies under rugged mountains after torrential downpours; and teams to retrieve bodies at sea.
Mismari says that although tens and thousands of troops have been mobilized, some areas still remain inaccessible by emergency services.
A number of countries, as well as human rights organizations have offered to help rescuers in their efforts to dig out survivors from the rubble.
International Rescue Committee, IRC (International Rescue Committee) has said that in light of this disaster the country now faces an “unprecedented humanitarian crisis”.
Ciaran Donnelly, IRC’s vice president of crisis response, says that Libya faces “immense challenges, including phone lines outage and destruction hampering efforts to rescue people.” He also adds that climate changes have compounded a “steadily declining” situation, after many years in Libya, which has been plagued by conflict and unrest.
Turkish emergency management authority (AFAD), Turkey, announced on Tuesday that Turkish aircraft delivering humanitarian aid had arrived in Libya.
Anadoulu Agency published a report on Tuesday stating that Turkish president Recep Tayyip nderolu said that the country was sending 168 search-and-rescue teams as well humanitarian aid, to Benghazi.
Italy’s Civil Protection Department announced on Tuesday it would send a rescue team in order to support the operation.
US Embassy Tripoli, Libya announced that ambassador Richard Norland was its special envoy and had issued an official humanitarian declaration.
This will authorize the initial funding provided by the United States to aid in relief efforts for Libya. This post was made on X.
Zayed Al Nahyan has instructed that search and Rescue teams and assistance be dispatched to the affected areas. He also offered condolences.
Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who is the president of Egypt, sent a delegaion of Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Osama askar to Libya. They arrived there on Tuesday in order coordinate humanitarian aid and logistics.
World Meteorological Organization statement citing Libya’s National Meteorological Centre stated that the storm reached its height in north-east Libya on Sunday.
Libya’s hurricane follows floods that killed many people in southern Europe, Hong Kong and other places around the world.
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