The death toll from the devastating floods in eastern Libya has surged significantly as the true extent of the catastrophe starts too unfold.
As reported by FloodList on 11 September, extreme rainfall brought by Storm Daniel triggered flooding in the eastern region of Libya (Cyrenaica Region), with areas of Derna, Bayda and the Jabal al Akhdar region and the suburbs of Al-Marj particularly badly affected.
The enormity of the devastation in Derna became distressingly clear later on the same day, as images and videos emerged, revealing extensive destruction throughout the city. Suspected dam failures had led to catastrophic flooding within the city, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of buildings and the levelling of communities along the Wadi Darnah river. The force of the floodwaters carried entire structures and their occupants into the Mediterranean Sea at the mouth of the Wadi Darnah.
So far, at least 700 bodies have been recovered from the destruction in Derna, the health minister for eastern Libya said. However, given the sheer scale of the destruction the toll is likely to be far higher. Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a UN briefing in Geneva that at least 10,000 people were still unaccounted for. He said Libya is experiencing a “large-scale disaster” that “goes beyond the abilities of the Libyan government and the national society.”
Speaking to Reuters, Hichem Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation and member of the emergency committee, said, “I returned from Derna. It is very disastrous. Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings.”
“I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
With hundreds of homes destroyed, survivors have been forced to sleep on roadsides and in public areas.
The Government of National Unity and Presidential Council declared three days of mourning and flew the Libyan flag at half mast to honour the victims of Storm Daniel disaster,
Heavy rain brought by Storm Daniel fell in eastern areas of the country from 09 September 2023. According to the National Center of Meteorology in Libya, in a 24 hour period to 10 September, as much as 414.1 mm of rain was recorded in Bayda. The average yearly rainfall in the city is around 300 mm.
Elsewhere, 240 mm of rain fell in Marawah in the District of Jabal al Akhdar, and 170 mm fell in Al Abraq in the Derna District.
During an emergency session of the Council of Ministers, Director of the National Meteorological Center, Ali Jahedar said the rainfall totals were the highest in 40 years.