Over 2,000 people have lost their lives, and more than 10,000 are missing after a massive Mediterranean storm wreaked havoc in Libya, triggering floods that burst dams and destroyed buildings. The eastern coastal city of Derna, with a population of around 125,000, suffered extensive damage, with approximately 25% of the city washed away by torrential waters.
Director of Wahda Hospital, Mohamad al-Qabisi, reported 1,700 deaths in one district and 500 in the other. Bodies were found throughout the city, and the number of casualties is expected to rise.
The storm, named Storm Daniel, hit a country already torn by over a decade of conflict, causing widespread devastation. Other cities, including Benghazi, also experienced severe flooding.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimates a “huge” death toll, with around 10,000 people missing. United Nations aid teams are mobilizing to assist on the ground.
Turkey and other nations are sending aid, including search and rescue teams, boats, generators, and food. In Derna, residents desperately searched for their loved ones.
Derna, typically protected from floods by dams, saw one dam collapse upstream, contributing to the catastrophe. Concerns about the city’s vulnerability to flooding had been raised previously in a research paper.
The tragedy has prompted condolences from world leaders, including Pope Francis. Libya remains politically divided, with public services deteriorating since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
The internationally recognized government in Tripoli has dispatched aid to Derna, but tens of thousands of people are now displaced with no immediate prospects of returning home, according to Norway’s Refugee Council.