The death toll stemming from the devastating floods in Libya has now exceeded 5,000, and this grim number is anticipated to climb higher as authorities continue the challenging task of recovering bodies from the floodwaters.
In the eastern city of Derna, thousands of individuals are still unaccounted for as officials strive to provide aid to the tens of thousands who have been left homeless in the wake of the destructive floods triggered by storm Daniel.
Derna, which has borne the brunt of this natural disaster, found itself isolated from the outside world when flash floods washed away most of the access roads on a Sunday night. Aid workers managed to reach the city only recently.
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Emad al-Falah, an aid worker from Benghazi, described the heart-wrenching scene: “Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children. Entire families were lost.”
Yann Fridez, the leader of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Libya delegation, referred to the impact of the 23-foot high waves that struck the city as “enormous.”
While some aid teams were able to reach the city with supplies, local emergency responders relied on the equipment available to them. Ossama Ali, spokesman for the Ambulance and Emergency Centre, reported that at least 5,100 deaths were recorded in Derna, with approximately 100 additional fatalities in other parts of eastern Libya. Moreover, more than 7,000 people were injured in the city, with most receiving treatment in makeshift field hospitals established by authorities and aid organizations.
The death toll is anticipated to rise further as search-and-rescue teams continue their grim task of retrieving bodies from the streets, buildings, and the sea.
According to the United Nations migration agency, over 30,000 people in Derna have been displaced by the flooding. The damage is so extensive that the city is nearly inaccessible for humanitarian aid workers, as reported by the International Organization for Migration.
Ahmed Abdalla, a survivor who joined the search-and-rescue efforts, recounted the somber process of placing bodies in the yard of a local hospital before interring them in mass graves at the city’s sole intact cemetery.
This catastrophic event has shed light on the infrastructural neglect in many areas of Libya, which is divided by rival governments in the east and west.