The condition of the city of Derna was devastated by flash floods. Photo/Sky News
DERNA – The mayor of the city of Derna in Libya, Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi, said the death toll from the flood disaster that hit the city could range between 18,000 and 20,000. This is based on the number of districts in the city that were wiped out by floods.
He expressed this when speaking to the al-Arabiya television station as quoted by Sky News, Thursday (14/9/2023).
Libyan officials appealed for international help on Monday, warning that the country did not have the necessary experience to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.
At least 30,000 people have taken refuge in Derna, and health officials on Wednesday said the death toll in the town had risen to more than 5,100 – while a minister said 5,300 bodies in the east of the country had been recovered.
Search teams have combed streets, destroyed buildings and even the sea for bodies in a Libyan coastal town where two dams collapsed and caused massive flash flooding.
Storm Daniel caused significant damage to roads and telecommunications networks on Sunday – with strong winds and heavy rain suddenly devastating the port city of Derna – about 900 km east of the capital, Tripoli.
“The sea is constantly dumping dozens of bodies,” said Hichem Abu Chkiouat, civil aviation minister in the government ruling eastern Libya, adding that reconstruction would cost billions of dollars.
“We count more than 5,300 people dead so far, and it is likely that the number will increase significantly, maybe even double because the number of missing people is also in the thousands,” he added.
Video footage of a man, described by the Libyan Red Crescent Society charity as a grieving father, showed his anguish as his son’s body was lifted from a collapsed building and prepared to be transported.