Lazy eyes listen
According to the most recent government estimate, massive flash flooding caused by a violent Mediterranean storm that smashed dams and drove entire neighbourhoods into the sea as it slammed Libya on Monday has killed at least 5,300 people.
The divided country’s eastern administration, based in Tobruk, published the new dead toll through its interior ministry on Tuesday, putting the number of those still missing at 10,000. According to reports, up to 6,000 individuals are missing in the seaside city of Derna in northern Libya alone.
The storm caused two dams to fail, causing a wall of water to flow across a wadi towards Derna, which had previously been flooded. Many of the city’s structures, including entire neighbourhoods, were washed away. Derna has a population of about 125,000.
“Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings,” civil aviation minister Hichem Abu Chkiouat told Reuters on Tuesday. “I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
Hospitals in Derna have apparently been closed, and mortuaries are overflowing. Dr. Anas Barghathy, a volunteer in Derna, told CNN that dead bodies are placed on pavements outside mortuaries. “There are no firsthand emergency services,” he explained. “Right now, people are working to collect the rotting bodies.”
Turkey’s government has sent humanitarian aid as well as 168 search and rescue teams to Benghazi to assist with the relief operation. Italy and France are two European countries that have offered aid to Libya.
The incident occurred barely three days after an earthquake struck Morocco, another North African country. Over 2,900 people have died, making it the country’s deadliest earthquake since at least 1960.
Libya’s split authority might stymie recovery attempts. Since 2014, the North African country has been divided into two opposing governments, following the killing of longstanding leader Muammar Gaddafi during a NATO-led bombing campaign in 2011. Under a UN-backed peace pact, the Government of National Unity (GNU) gained control in Tripoli in March 2021. Tobruk is the headquarters of an alternative administration backed by the Libyan parliament. The storm that affected the east of the country the hardest occurred on Monday.