Courtesy: Geo News/Reuters
- “The sea is constantly dumping dozens of bodies,” says minister.
- Missing people also in thousands, says Hichem Abu Chkiouat.
- at least 30,000 people were displaced in Derna, IOM report.
The death toll in Libya has surpassed 6,000 following a devastating storm that wreaked havoc on the region, washing away entire neighbourhoods and leaving thousands dead, with many more still missing.
In the aftermath of this catastrophic event, the Mediterranean city of Derna found itself obliterated by a deluge of floodwaters. The torrential rains, spurred by a powerful storm, caused dams above the city to burst on a fateful Sunday night, resulting in the sweeping away of multi-storey buildings with sleeping families inside.
Hichem Abu Chkiouat, the minister of civil aviation in the eastern Libyan administration, reported the grim situation, stating, “The sea is constantly dumping dozens of bodies.”
He further revealed, “We have counted more than 5,300 dead so far, and the number is likely to increase significantly and may even double because the number of missing people is also thousands.”
This handout picture provided by the office of Libya´s Benghazi-based interim prime minister on September 11, 2023, shows a view of vehicles piled up along the side of a coastal road in the eastern city of Derna—AFP
The magnitude of the disaster has left tens of thousands of people homeless, and the nation finds itself ill-equipped to handle the aftermath. Officials expressed concerns about at least 10,000 people feared missing or dead, with varying confirmed death tolls.
Tariq Kharaz, a spokesperson for the eastern authorities, disclosed that 3,200 bodies had been recovered, and 1,100 of them remained unidentified.
In Derna’s hospital, a heart-wrenching scene unfolded as scores of bodies shrouded in blankets were laid out on the floor, both inside corridors and outside on the pavement, in a desperate attempt by residents to identify their loved ones.
Mustafa Salem shared his harrowing account, revealing the devastating loss his family endured: “People were asleep and no one was ready. We lost 30 people so far, 30 members of the same family. We haven’t found anyone.” A man stands next to a damaged car, after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya, in Derna, Libya September 12, 2023. — Reuters
The International Organization for Migration reported that at least 30,000 people were displaced in Derna, adding to the humanitarian crisis. Rescue operations face significant challenges due to deep political divisions in the country, which has lacked a strong central government since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
Despite these challenges, governments including Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey have rushed aid to Libya. Italy’s defense ministry sent military planes carrying firefighters and emergency personnel, along with a navy ship, to assist in relief efforts. The United Arab Emirates also dispatched aid planes laden with essential supplies to eastern Libya, highlighting the international community’s response to this unprecedented catastrophe.
This This picture released by the Libyan Red Crescent on September 11, 2023, shows members of their team working on opening roads engulfed in floods at an undefined location in eastern Libya.—AFP
A grab from a video released by the Libyan Red Crescent on September 11, 2023, reportedly shows members of their team rescuing people from floods at an undefined location in eastern Libya.—AFP