Over 1,500 Libyan residents lost their lives, and more than 10,000 are still unaccounted for on Tuesday due to two dams collapsing and four bridges being damaged during flooding in Derna, a port city.
The Mediterranean storm Daniel struck on Sunday, hitting several eastern Libyan cities, including Benghazi, Soussa, and Al-Marj. Hisham Chkiouat, Libya’s aviation minister, revealed that one of the dams south of Derna had collapsed, causing significant parts of the city to be engulfed by the sea.
The Red Crescent reported that around 10,000 people are missing following the devastating floods, while many homes in Derna remain submerged.
Hisham Chkiouat expressed his shock, comparing the situation to a tsunami. He stated, “A massive neighborhood has been destroyed, and the number of victims is increasing by the hour. Currently, we have confirmed 1,500 deaths, but the exact figures are uncertain. This is a catastrophe.”
Tamer Ramadan, the head of the Libyan delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, mentioned that their teams are actively assisting families in the five worst-affected cities. He noted, “The death toll appears to be extremely high, based on our preliminary assessments and incoming reports.”
On Monday, Ossama Hamad, the prime minister of the eastern Libyan government, declared dozens of towns and villages in the North African nation as disaster zones.
Ahmed Mismari, the spokesperson of the eastern-based Libyan National Army, explained, “The flowing water carried away entire neighborhoods, eventually depositing them into the sea.” He added that between 5,000 and 6,000 people are still missing.
The unprecedented floods affected cities such as Al-Bayda, Derna, Al-Marj, Tobruk, Takenis, Al-Bayada, Battah, and all the cities and villages of Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar and the eastern coast, reaching all the way to Benghazi, according to Mismari.
Videos posted online provide an aerial view of Derna, displaying the extensive damage caused by the storm as buildings and land were swept away. Closer shots reveal scattered cars and buildings reduced to rubble. Phone lines and power in Derna have been disrupted, according to authorities.
Georgette Gagnon, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, expressed her deep sadness and mobilized an emergency response team to assist local authorities and partners in the affected region. She called upon local, national, and international partners to provide urgent humanitarian aid during this challenging time.
Just last week, the same storm claimed the lives of more than two dozen people in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Storm Daniel is classified as a tropical cyclone, a phenomenon known to impact the Mediterranean and coastal communities, similar to hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Both the United Nations and the United States offered condolences and assistance on Monday. The U.S. State Department issued a statement expressing sympathy and pledging to coordinate relief efforts with U.N. partners and Libyan authorities. Meanwhile, the United Nations in Libya extended their condolences to the affected families and expressed their solidarity with all those affected by the disaster.