10,000 feared dead in Libyan floods as storm sweeps city into the sea

12 September 2023, 19:33 | Updated: 12 September 2023, 19:36

Libya has been devastated by the floods
Libya has been devastated by the floods. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Ten thousand people are missing and feared dead in Libya after floods swept much of a city into the Mediterranean Sea.

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The flood, triggered by Storm Daniel, burst through two dams and four bridges on Monday in the eastern city of Derna, destroyed around a quarter of the buildings.

Derna, which has a population of 100,000 people, has suffered a death toll of 1,500.

Storm Daniel, which hit on Sunday, also impacted the cities of Benghazi, Soussa and Al-Marj.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said his thoughts were with the "catastrophic flooding in eastern Libya".

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Derna. Picture: Getty
Derna. Picture: Getty
Derna. Picture: Getty

He said: "We are in contact with the Libyan authorities and the UN to urgently assess what support we can provide to help the Libyan people at this tragic time."

Hichem Chkiouat, Benghazi’s minister of civil aviation, said Derna was in a "disastrous" state. "Bodies are lying everywhere — in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings," he told Reuters.

Catastrophic floods hit Libya
Catastrophic floods hit Libya. Picture: Getty

"I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 per cent of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed."

Some pointed fingers at Libyan authorities for not looking after flood defences properly.

Derna. Picture: Getty
Derna. Picture: Getty

“Mohamed Eljarh, a managing partner at Libya Desk Consulting, said: "The high death toll in Derna is down to a lack of attention to these dams, which were last given a maintenance check in 2002 — so people are going to start demanding to know who was in charge here".

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the scenes in Libya were "heartbreaking".

"My deepest condolences to the people of Libya after the terrible floods that ravaged the country and claimed so many lives. The EU is by your side in this tragedy."

Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN said he was "deeply concerned by the deadly flood emergency unfolding in Libya.

"Our thoughts are with the affected people. Emergency teams are being mobilized to help on the ground."