Sep 12, 2023
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Libyans are feared dead. The tragedy comes after a storm dubbed “Daniel” swept across the North African country over the weekend. The storm wrecked neighborhoods and toppled apartment buildings in coastal cities.
A precise death toll has proven hard to come by. As of late Monday, it ranged from several dozen to as many as 2,000. The challenge is partly because the flooding has left some cities very hard to reach. Deep political divisions are a problem too. They still roil Libya a dozen years after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was ousted. The divides hinder organized responses and assessments of the damage. The country is now governed by two rival factions.
So far, there are 61 confirmed deaths in several cities. That doesn't count the city of Derna. Health officials told The Associated Press that. The Red Crescent reported 150 deaths in Derna alone. Osama Hamad is the leader of Libya’s eastern government. He placed that number above 2,000. But he did not provide a source for it.
Video footage was captured by stricken residents. It was broadcast on TV. It showed whole rows of houses washed away. It also showed apartments collapsed in the mud. Motorists screamed for help. This was while standing atop their cars as floodwaters washed other cars away.
Safieldin Buheiba is a Bayda city councilman. He told Al Jazeera the city was “completely out of control.” He called on "all government officials to intervene to save … what can be saved.”
Saleh al-Obaidi is a Derna resident. He described watching houses collapse as he and his family fled the flooding.
"People were asleep and woke up and found their homes surrounded by water," he told Reuters.
Photo from Reuters.
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