A massive storm from the Mediterranean led to catastrophic floods in Libya, resulting in over 1,000 confirmed deaths and over 10,000 individuals reported missing.
The storm, named Daniel, caused dams to burst, buildings to be swept away, and extensive damage to the eastern coastal city of Derna.
Derna, home to approximately 125,000 people, now bears the brunt of this disaster. Reuters reporters on the scene witnessed entire neighbourhoods in ruins, buildings washed away, and cars flipped over in streets covered in mud and debris carried by the floodwaters from the bursting dams.
Tragically, the death toll is expected to climb much higher as search and rescue efforts continue. In Derna alone, over 1,000 bodies have already been recovered.
Heart-wrenching scenes unfolded as bodies were laid out on the streets near overcrowded hospitals, with desperate residents searching under shrouds in a quest to find their missing loved ones.
The devastation extended beyond Derna’s borders, with vehicles overturned along roads, trees uprooted, and homes submerged and abandoned. Libya, already divided and facing immense challenges from over a decade of conflict, now grapples with the aftermath of this natural disaster.
“Bodies are lying everywhere—in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings,” Hichem Abu Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation in the administration that controls the east, told Reuters by phone shortly after visiting Derna.
“The number of bodies recovered in Derna is more than 1,000,” he said. “I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 percent of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
Abu Chkiouat later told Al Jazeera that he anticipates the overall death toll in the entire country to exceed 2,500, given the increasing count of missing individuals.
The storm affected several other cities in the eastern region, including Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city. Tamer Ramadan, who leads a delegation from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, emphasised that the loss of life would be substantial.
“We can confirm from our independent sources of information that the number of missing people is hitting 10,000 so far,” he told reporters via video link.
The United Nations aid chief, Martin Griffiths, announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that emergency teams are swiftly deploying to provide assistance in the affected areas.
Meanwhile, Turkey and various other nations are sending aid to Libya, including search and rescue vehicles, rescue boats, generators, and food supplies. In the midst of this aid effort, distressed residents of Derna are hurrying back to their homes in a desperate search for their missing family members.