Thousands of people are feared to have died in devastating floods that struck Libya’s eastern region after Storm Daniel hit the country. The city of Derna has been severely affected, with raging torrents of water destroying two dams and causing entire buildings to be swept into the sea. The health minister and spokesman of the UN-recognized government in western Libya, Othman Abdul Jalil, has reported that the situation in Derna continues to worsen, and at least 2,000 people have been found dead. He expects the death toll to reach 10,000 as many parts of the city remain inaccessible. Derna, which had an estimated population of 90,000, has declared a need for assistance from friendly countries to save what remains of the city.
Tamer Ramadan, head of the Libyan delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated that a staggering number of people are missing, potentially up to 10,000 in the most affected areas. He expects the death toll to be in the thousands. The Libyan Red Crescent has confirmed three deaths of its members, with one more person still missing.
Both the eastern and western authorities have declared Derna a disaster zone after the city was submerged in floodwaters. Libya’s infrastructure has suffered significant damage during the ongoing civil war, which began in 2011 after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi. The country is currently divided between rival governments in the east and west.
In response to the crisis, the UN-backed government in the west has mobilized support for the affected areas. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey have dispatched search and rescue teams, medical personnel, and humanitarian supplies to assist in the relief efforts.
Authorities are prioritizing the establishment of a telecommunication network and the deployment of helicopters to locate survivors. As winter approaches, urgent efforts are also needed to rebuild the dams to prevent future flooding.
The United States, through its ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, is coordinating with the United Nations and Libyan authorities. The US has issued an official declaration of humanitarian need and plans to provide initial funding for relief efforts. Libyan Americans are also eager to contribute to the relief efforts.