Rescuers combed through the debris of Derna in eastern Libya and discovered hundreds of bodies on Tuesday. 10,000 people were also reported as still missing after floodwaters burst through dams, swept through the city, and washed away entire neighborhoods.
According to the health minister for eastern Libya, at least 700 remains that were retrieved have already been buried. The most recent death toll was 2,300, according to Derna’s ambulance authority.
However, the death toll is probably much higher, in the thousands, according to Tamer Ramadan, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ representative in Libya. Through a videoconference from Tunisia, he informed a U.N. meeting in Geneva that at least 10,000 people still remained unaccounted for.
Ramadan referred to the catastrophic earthquake that struck close to the city of Marrakesh on Friday night and claimed the situation in Libya was “as devastating as the situation in Morocco.”
When Mediterranean storm Daniel battered the coast on Sunday night, it wreaked havoc in Derna and other areas of eastern Libya. The Wadi Derna, a river that flows from the mountains through the city and into the sea, saw flash floods after residents reported hearing huge explosions outside the city.
Ahmed Abdalla, one of the residents, claimed that the wall of water that swept through Derna “erased everything in its way.”
Large expanses of muck and destruction were visible in videos uploaded online by locals where the rushing rivers had swept away residential communities on both banks of the river. Facades of multi-story apartment complexes that were originally well distant from the river were torn off, and concrete floors fell. The water raised the cars, which were then dropped on top of one another.
In the immediate aftermath of the calamity, residents of the 90,000-person city were left on their own since, according to authorities in eastern Libya, they were unable to get to Derna. Tuesday saw the arrival in the city of the majority of the eastern government.
The corpses were being recovered by local emergency responders, including soldiers, government employees, volunteers, and citizens. Inflatable boats were also utilized to remove bodies from the water.
In Derna, scores of dead were seen spread out in the hospital yard covered in blankets. Othman Abduljaleel, the health minister for eastern Libya, stated that several victims were either believed to be trapped under debris or to have been washed into the Mediterranean Sea.
On Tuesday morning, Red Crescent crews from other regions of Libya also arrived in Derna, but further excavators and other equipment had not yet arrived, in part because to severed and damaged roads.
Two dams on Wadi Derna, according to authorities, have fallen, highlighting the infrastructure’s fragility in Libya after more than a decade of unrest. The oil-rich country is still split between two opposing governments, one in the east and one in the west, each of which is supported by a separate militia and a different foreign power.
The military command of Khalifa Hifter, the strongman of the east Libyan government located in Benghazi, controls Derna.
According to Jalel Harchaoui, an associate fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies who specializes in Libya, local officials have neglected Derna for years, frequently mentioning expanding it but never taking any action.
Additionally, aid started to arrive at a staging area near Benghazi, 250 km (150 miles) west of Derna. Officials from the Egyptian military as well as a rescue crew and helicopters have arrived in Benghazi. The Western Libyan administration, which is based in Tripoli, despatched a plane to Benghazi with 14 tons of medical supplies and medical personnel.
Richard Norland, the U.S. Special Envoy for Libya, announced on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, that the country is working with the UN and regional authorities to determine how to best direct official U.S. support. The United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, and Algeria all pledged support for search and rescue operations.
Other parts of eastern Libya were also affected by the storm, including the town of Bayda, where 50 or more fatalities were reported. According to a video the center posted on Facebook, the Medical Center of Bayda, the primary hospital, was inundated and patients had to be evacuated.
Susa, Marj, and Shahatt were among the other towns that suffered, according to the authorities. In the city of Benghazi and other parts of eastern Libya, hundreds of families were uprooted and sought refuge in schools and other governmental structures.
One of Libya’s most productive and lush regions is its northeast. According to the World Bank, the region of Jabal al-Akhdar, where Bayda, Marj, and Shahatt are situated, has one of the nation’s highest average annual rainfall.
Derna, well-known for its white-painted homes and palm gardens, was mostly constructed by Italy during the first part of the 20th century, when Libya was occupied by them. In the years-long upheaval that followed the NATO-backed rebellion that deposed and murdered longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, the city served as a focal point for extremist groups.