Libya Floods: Thousands Dead, Even More Missing As Rescue Efforts Continue
At least 2,300 have been killed, with the number expected to spiral as floodwater from Storm Daniel raged through Libya’s eastern city of Derna.
Images from the city show mass graves, corpses covered in blankets, with the ambulance authority determining the current death toll.
It’s expected though the number of deaths could reach 10,000 with thousands of people still unaccounted for.
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Local emergency responders have sort through the rubble to locate the dead, and used inflatable boats to retrieve bodies from the water.
On Sunday night, local time, floodwaters broke two dams and four bridges, destroying and washing away the cities in its path.
Residents reported loud explosions before realising the dams outside the city had collapsed.
“At first we just thought it was heavy rain but at midnight we heard a huge explosion, and it was the dam bursting,” Raja Sassi, a resident who survived with his wife and daughter, told Reuters.
International aid has begun arriving in the country, including from Egypt, while help has been offered, or reported to be sent from Germany, Iran, Italy, Qatar, Turkey, and the United States.
Rival governments are “responsible for what unravelled”
Rescue efforts have been hindered however, with the country powered by two rival governments.
Libya has been in political chaos since ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.
One government has been operating from the capital, Tripoli, while another one in the east, controlled by forces of military of Khalifa Hifter.
Founder and director of Sadeq Institute, a Tripoli-based public policy think-tank, Anas El Gomati sad the presence of two rival governments has complicated authorities’ efforts to respond to the crisis.
The governments had plenty of time to coordinate a better response, having seen the storm’s impact on Turkey and Greece.
“We had days and hours ahead of this to be able to prepare,” he said.
“It is the local governments and the Libyan National Army – Khalifa Haftar’s forces – that are responsible for what unravelled.
“They had days and hours to plan an evacuation. They [the authorities] didn’t raise the alarm and instead did the opposite – told people, to stay indoors.
“This is not the evil of mother nature, it is the evil of men, the incompetence and complacency.”
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