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Libyan City Living Through Doomsday As Floods Claim Over 6000 Lives

Libyan city living through doomsday as floods claim over 6000 lives as it races against time to provide proper burials for its deceased citizens. The streets of Derna, a northern coastal city, are overwhelmed with bodies due to the devastating flooding caused by a torrential downpour that breached two dams, sweeping homes into the sea.

Hilda Workman
Sep 14, 202316411 Shares282946 Views
Libyan city living through doomsday as floods claim over 6000 livesas it races against time to provide proper burials for its deceased citizens. The streets of Derna, a northern coastal city, are overwhelmed with bodies due to the devastating flooding caused by a torrential downpour that breached two dams, sweeping homes into the sea.
As of Wednesday morning local time, the death toll has climbed to over 6,000 people, as reported by Saadeddin Abdul Wakil, the health ministry's undersecretary for the Unity Government in Tripoli, one of the two rival governments in the country.
Despite the urgent need to care for survivors of this catastrophic event, morgues in hospitals are already at full capacity and many of these medical facilities remain non-operational.
In Egypt, the government has laid to rest 87 Egyptian victims who lost their lives in Libya, according to the country's emigration ministry.
Tragically, around 10,000 individuals are still unaccounted for, potentially either swept out to sea or trapped beneath the debris that now litters the city, which was once home to over 100,000 residents, according to authorities.
The flooding in Derna has displaced more than 30,000 people, as reported by the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya on Wednesday.
The extensive damage to infrastructure in the region has made it challenging for humanitarian groups to access some of the hardest-hit areas. Currently, there are only two functioning entry points out of the seven that lead into Derna.
Emergency response teams are sifting through heaps of rubble in search of both survivors and bodies, while officials are striving to adhere to Islamic customs that dictate the need for deceased individuals to be accorded proper burial rites within a span of three days.
The Martyrs’ committee (has been set up to) identify the missing people and to implement procedures for identifying and burial of in accordance with Sharia and legal laws and standards.- Libya’s minister of state for cabinet affairs, Adel Juma
The havoc caused by Storm Daniel has significantly compounded the already daunting task for rescue teams working to clear roads and debris in their quest to locate survivors.
The storm's impact on communication infrastructure has not only hampered rescue operations but has also heightened the anxiety of families located outside Libya who are anxiously awaiting updates on the status of their missing loved ones.
Ayah, a Palestinian woman with relatives in Derna, expressed her distress at her inability to establish contact with them since the flooding occurred.
I’m really worried about them. I have two cousins who live in Derna. It seems all communications are down and I don’t know if they are alive at this point. It is very terrifying watching the videos coming out of Derna. We are all terrified.- Ayah
In 2011, Libya was rocked by a revolution against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and subsequently torn apart by a civil war. The extent of the devastation serves as a stark reminder of the nation's vulnerability, given its years-long struggle with internal conflicts and turmoil.
Presently, the United Nations-backed Government of National Unity (GNU), led by Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, is based in Tripoli in the northwestern part of Libya. In contrast, the eastern region is under the control of Commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), which supports the eastern-based parliament led by Osama Hamad.
Derna, situated approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) to the east of Benghazi, is within Haftar's sphere of influence and under the administration of the eastern authorities.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, issued a statement on Wednesday, urging all Libyan political stakeholders to overcome their "political gridlock and divisions" and work collectively toward a resolution.
A damaged car stuck in the mud
A damaged car stuck in the mud

Not Prepared For Such A Havoc

Storm Daniel appears to have triggered one of the most lethal floods ever recorded in North Africa. This exceptionally powerful low-pressure system initially entered the Mediterranean before transforming into a cyclone with tropical characteristics and making landfall on the Libyan coast. Last week, Daniel also unleashed unparalleled flooding in Greece, though the death toll there remained relatively lower.
This deadly storm arrives amid an unparalleled year of climate-related catastrophes and record-breaking weather extremes, spanning from devastating wildfires to unrelenting heatwaves. While numerous cities in the region were impacted by the flooding, Derna bore the brunt of the devastation, as the collapse of two dams swept entire neighborhoods into the tumultuous sea.
"Libya was not prepared for a catastrophe like that," said Osama Aly, an Emergency and Ambulance service spokesperson.

Catastrophic Conditions

Medical professionals in Derna have reported distressing scenes of bodies piling up near local hospitals, as aid workers face challenges in burying the thousands of victims who have lost their lives.
Dr. Anas Barghaty, who serves as the head of Kuwaifia Hospital in Benghazi and is volunteering in Derna, described the situation as a "disaster."
His colleague, Dr Aisha, said, "We are calling on all relevant parties and international aid agencies to quickly and urgently interfere to end these catastrophic conditions."
"The situation is dire. There is a very high death toll. And we are now faced with the problem of being unable to deal with these bodies or bury them. We are trying to get the appropriate humanitarian assistance to get these bodies to freezers."
"We need the appropriate groups to urgently take action and interfere to help with identifying the DNA on these bodies … Of course, in the meantime, there is nothing we can do to prevent this environmental disaster from breaking out."
"These here are only half of the bodies that we have seen. There are other bodies on the other side of the city," she added.
Johr Ali, a reporter who lives in exile in Istanbul because of attacks on journalists in Libya, said a friend of his had lost his entire family in the disaster.
I was next to him, I heard the news of the deaths of [his friends'] full family. His mother, his father, his two brothers, his sister Maryam, and his wife - his newly married wife - whom he sent to Libya to visit his family just two weeks ago, and his little kid who is eight months old. All of those died, all of his family is dead, and he is asking me what should I do.- Johr Ali
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has issued an urgent plea to the international community to address the "catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Libya."
Elie Abouaoun, the Director of IRC for Libya, expressed deep concern about the protection and safety needs of those affected by this tragedy, particularly thousands of women and children who are forced to abandon their homes in search of safety.
Abouaoun noted that the overwhelming number of survivors in need of treatment has overwhelmed many hospitals, and there is growing anxiety about the potential spread of waterborne diseases, further straining Libya's healthcare systems.
"Access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities will be required to prevent a further crisis within a crisis."
Several children's toy under a building affected by the flood
Several children's toy under a building affected by the flood

International Assistance And Aid Efforts Flow In

Libya has seen a surge in foreign aid efforts. On Wednesday, Tunisia, Libya's western neighbor, dispatched a search and rescue team comprising approximately 52 personnel. This team included four search dogs, three medical professionals, a diving squad, and a water extraction unit, as reported by Tunisia's state news agency TAP.
Additionally, eight Algerian military aircraft laden with humanitarian aid, such as food, medical supplies, clothing, and tents, began arriving in Libya on the same day, according to Libyan state news agency LANA.
Several European Union member states, including Germany, Romania, and Finland, have extended their assistance by offering tents, field beds, blankets, 80 generators, food supplies, hospital tents, and water tanks through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.
Furthermore, in response to the Libyan authorities' call for international aid, the EU has promptly released an initial €500,000 ($540,000) in humanitarian funding.
On Tuesday, humanitarian aid from Turkey reached Libya through Turkish aircraft, as reported by Turkey's Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also confirmed that Turkey would dispatch 168 search and rescue teams along with humanitarian assistance to Benghazi, as conveyed by the state-run news agency Anadolu Agency.
Simultaneously, Italy has committed to sending a civil defense team to support rescue operations, as announced by the Italian Civil Protection Department on Tuesday.
In a separate development, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli disclosed that its special envoy, Ambassador Richard Norland, issued an official declaration recognizing the urgent humanitarian needs in the region.
This "will authorize initial funding that the United States will provide in support of relief efforts in Libya. We are coordinating with UN partners and Libyan authorities to assess how best to target official US assistance," it posted on X (formally known as Twitter).
The President of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed Al Nahyan, has instructed the dispatch of aid and search and rescue teams, expressing his condolences to those impacted by the disaster, according to a report from the state news agency.
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