A powerful storm in northeastern Libya has caused extensive damage and an unknown number of fatalities in various communities along the Mediterranean coastline. The city of Derna experienced significant devastation when floodwaters breached its two aging dams, resulting in extensive flooding throughout the city. Telecommunication networks were down, making it challenging to assess the extent of the damage and the number of casualties.
According to two senior officials, as many as 2,000 people in Derna are feared dead, with thousands more missing. However, the source for these estimates remains unclear. The lawmaker, Asmahan Belaoun, stated that her family members in Derna are safe, but their buildings have been destroyed. She stressed the urgent need for helicopters to aid in the rescue efforts.
Libya, which is divided between two rival governments, already struggles with crumbling infrastructure due to years of civil war following the fall of Moammar Gaddafi. This storm exacerbates the infrastructure issues the country faces.
Videos posted on social media and local news networks show the apocalyptic scenes of Derna submerged in floodwaters. The storm, named Daniel, resulted in the deaths of at least 150 people, according to a local official with the Libyan Red Crescent. The death toll is expected to rise further.
The storm, which also affected Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, formed due to extreme weather patterns linked to deadly flooding in Spain and record-breaking heat in western Europe. It transitioned into a “medicane,” or a tropical-like cyclone, as it moved over the Mediterranean Sea. The storm gained strength from the abnormally warm waters, a process intensified by human-caused climate change.
Libya’s National Center of Meteorology reported rainfall totals of over 16 inches in Bayda, where at least 12 deaths were reported. This amount of rainfall is significantly higher than the average for September. Witnesses in Derna claimed that floodwaters reached heights of up to 10 feet.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding to northern Egypt before dissipating. The Egyptian Meteorological Authority has warned residents in the greater Cairo area to prepare for major rainfall. Urgent international assistance is being sought to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts in Derna.
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