Derna Catastrophic Floods: Eastern Libya’s city of Derna faced a devastating tragedy when it was hit by catastrophic floods. Hichem Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation in the eastern administration, shared grim details of the aftermath. He stated that over 1,000 bodies had been recovered and warned that the final toll would be significantly higher. Chkiouat described the city as being dramatically affected, with 25% of it completely destroyed.
This disaster followed a massive flood triggered by a heavy storm and the collapse of dams above Derna. The deluge swept entire neighborhoods into the sea. Ahmed Mismari, the spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) that governs eastern Libya, estimated that between 5,000 to 6,000 people are missing. These figures, however, couldn’t be immediately confirmed.
The political division in Libya, with separate governments in the east and west, has been an obstacle in tackling such disasters. While the recognized government in Tripoli has no control over the eastern regions, it has urged the international community to provide assistance.
Storm Daniel, after affecting Greece the previous week, moved across the Mediterranean and impacted multiple coastal settlements, including Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city. Videos and eyewitness accounts depicted the sheer magnitude of the destruction, with buildings annihilated and residents seeking safety.
While search and rescue operations continue, a state of extreme emergency has been declared, instituting curfews, and shutting schools and shops. Major Libyan oil ports also temporarily closed as a precaution.
The United Nations in Libya has pledged its support for relief and response efforts. Qatar has also promised aid to help the affected areas in eastern Libya.
As Libya grapples with this unprecedented natural disaster on top of its political divisions, the true scale of the tragedy remains to unfold.