Libya floods: fears that 20,000 have died

Libya Floods: Devastation Strikes as Dams Collapse in Northern Libya


LIBYA – In a tragic turn of events, northern Libya has been hit by devastating floods following the collapse of two dams during severe storms. The catastrophe has left thousands missing and an estimated 20,000 people feared dead in the city of Derna.

The impact of the flooding has been captured by drone footage, providing a harrowing view of the widespread destruction and the challenges faced in delivering aid to those in need.

Derna, a coastal city on the Mediterranean, was particularly hard-hit. The city, which was home to approximately 100,000 residents, now stands in ruins after two dams and four bridges succumbed to the relentless force of the floodwaters.

Reports from the mayor of Derna have indicated that the death toll may be staggering, with fears that as many as 20,000 lives may have been lost. Many residents were caught unaware as their homes collapsed around them, and others were swept out to sea by the torrential waters.

The devastating floods were triggered by a powerful storm named Storm Daniel, which some meteorologists have referred to as a “medicane” or Mediterranean hurricane. This storm system had already claimed 15 lives in Greece before making landfall in Libya.

The most severely affected area was along the Northeast Coast of Derna, where the Wadi Derna river valley, typically dry for most of the year, became a conduit for the floodwaters. The two dams responsible for containing the waters, Al-Bilad and Abu Mansour, both failed to withstand the unprecedented rainfall and flood levels, resulting in a catastrophic deluge.

These dams, constructed around 50 years ago by Yugoslav Engineers with clay cores protected by stone carapaces, were ill-prepared for the intensity of the storm and flooding that ensued.

Despite warnings from local residents and Libyan academics about the dams’ deteriorating conditions, no significant measures were taken to address the issue, exacerbating the disaster.

This catastrophe underscores Libya’s ongoing struggle with political instability and conflict, which has left the nation ill-equipped to respond to natural disasters of this magnitude. While international aid is on its way, the damaged roads in eastern Libya may impede relief efforts.

Libya is now in its third day of national mourning as the grim task of recovering bodies and rebuilding lives begins. The people of Derna and Libya as a whole face a long and arduous journey toward recovery in the wake of one of the worst disasters in the nation’s history.

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