“We still have hope of finding survivors,” Tamer Ramadan of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) declared in Geneva, declining to give casualty figures five days after the floods that devastated Derna. and other cities in eastern Libya. However, his subsidiary on the ground, the Red Crescent, ventured to give the death toll of 11,300 people as of Thursday, while another 10,100 are still missing, in a city of about 100,000 inhabitants. It is believed that around 2,000 ended up in the sea.
Libyan authorities have evacuated everyone in Derna to allow search and rescue teams to dig through the remains of buildings submerged in mud in search of more bodies or, miraculously, any survivors.
The UN asks for 67 million euros to help 250,000 affected people
Two dams collapsed due to exceptionally heavy rains caused by Cyclone Daniel early Monday morning. The resulting wall of water came down a valley that runs through the city located on the shores of the Mediterranean and swept away a quarter of the city. Libya’s unusual flooding and political chaos contributed to the huge death toll.
The disaster has brought unusual unity, as government agencies from all sectors of Libya rushed to help affected areas. But relief efforts have been slowed by destruction after several bridges connecting the city were destroyed. Piles of twisted metal and flooded cars littered the streets of Derna, which are covered in tan mud.
Rescue teams arrived from Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Qatar. Among the countries that sent aid, Turkey sent a ship with equipment to establish two field hospitals. Italy sent three planes with supplies and personnel, as well as two navy ships that had difficulty unloading because the port of Derna, clogged by debris, was almost unusable.
Teams have buried bodies in mass graves outside the city and in nearby villages, eastern Libya’s Health Minister Othman Abduljaleel said. But officials are concerned that thousands of bodies are still hidden in the mud, or floating in the sea, where Turkish divers have been sent to search.
Libyan authorities on Thursday demanded an investigation into whether human error was responsible for thousands of deaths in the worst natural disaster in the country’s modern history. There are more and more voices that remember the warnings issued before the disaster about the poor state of the dams.
“Those whose actions or inaction were responsible for the dam failure must be held accountable, along with anyone who stopped the aid,” wrote yesterday Mohamed al Menfi, a leader who represents the east of the country on the three-member council that acts as presidency of the internationally recognized government of Libya, in X.
Those whose actions or inaction were responsible for the dam failure must be held accountable
The UN requested on Thursday some 67 million euros to help 250,000 people affected by the floods in Libya, which have so far caused 5,000 deaths and nearly 30,000 displaced people. This aid, however, would not cover the nearly 880,000 people spread across the country’s five provinces who live in directly affected areas, according to estimates by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“The magnitude of the catastrophe caused by the floods is shocking: entire neighborhoods have been wiped off the map and entire families, taken by surprise, have been swept away by the deluge,” added Martin Griffiths, director of OCHA. The priority now is to provide “shelter, food and key primary medical care due to concerns about cholera and lack of clean water,” he added.
We lost at least 50 members of my father’s family
Behind each of the thousands of lives lost there is a story. Usama Al Husadi, a 52-year-old driver, had been searching for his wife and five children since the disaster. “I went on foot looking for them… I went to all the hospitals and schools but I had no luck,” he told Reuters, between sobs and his head in his hands. Husadi, who had been working the night of the storm, redialed his wife’s phone number. He was off. “We lost at least 50 members of my father’s family, missing and dead,” he lamented.
Wali Eddin Mohamed Adam, 24, a Sudanese brick factory worker who lives on the outskirts of Derna, woke up to the sound of water on the night of the storm and ran to the city center to discover it was gone. . Nine of his co-workers died and about 15 more lost their families. “They were all swept down the valley towards the sea.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has estimated the number of children affected by ‘Daniel’ and its devastating consequences at 300,000, and has stated that they “desperately” need humanitarian aid.