Libya’s huge storm and flood leaves over 2,000 dead, at least 10,000 missing
At least 2,000 people have been killed and thousands more are missing after a devastating flood hit the city of Derna in eastern Libya, resulting in the collapse of two dams, authorities say.
Ahmed Mismari, spokesperson for the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) that controls eastern Libya, said the disaster struck when the two dams above Derna collapsed following a heavy storm and rain.
The dams’ collapse swept the “whole neighborhoods with their residents into the sea,” he said.
Mismari put the number missing at 5000 to 6000, adding seven members of the LNA had also died in the flood.
He said the floods have affected many cities along the eastern coast running all the way to Benghazi, the second most populous city.
Libya plunged into deadly chaos after the overthrow and killing of its long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi following a bombing campaign by the US-led NATO military alliance in 2011.
Since then the country has been divided into a UN-recognized government in western Libya and a parallel institution in the east of the country.
Osama Hamad, the head of a parallel eastern-based administration said, “The missing are in the thousands, and the dead exceed 2,000.”
“Entire neighborhoods in Derna have disappeared, along with their residents ... swept away by water,” he told al-Masar TV on Monday.
The head of Libya’s Emergency and Ambulance authority, Osama Aly, explained after the dam collapse “all of the water headed to an area near Derna, which is a mountainous coastal area.”
According to Aly, residences situated in valleys were swept away by forceful muddy currents that carried vehicles and debris.
The disruption of phone lines in the city has complicated rescue operations, rendering workers unable to access Derna due to the extensive damage.
Aly told the Al Hurra channel earlier that the authorities were not prepared for the magnitude of the calamity.