West News Wire: The Libyan Red Crescent reported that the dead toll in Derna, a coastal city in Libya, has risen to 11,300 as search efforts continue in the wake of a catastrophic flood caused by the breaching of two dams after heavy rains.
Another 10,100 individuals are listed as missing in the Mediterranean city, according to Marie el-Drese, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Libya. The previous death toll estimate from health authorities for Derna was 5,500. About 170 additional individuals were killed by the storm elsewhere in the nation.
The figure could reach 20,000, according to Derna’s mayor, Abdel-Moneim al-Ghaithi, given how many neighbourhoods were affected.
The flooding swept away entire families in Derna on Sunday night and exposed vulnerabilities in the oil-rich country that has been mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
One injured victim described how he and his mother were swept away during the late-night experience before they both managed to crawl into an empty building downstream. “Within seconds the water level suddenly rose,” he recalled.
In testimony made from his hospital bed and made public by the Benghazi Medical Centre, the unnamed guy claimed that the water rose with them up until they reached the fourth story.
“Screams could be heard. I observed vehicles and bodies being swept away by the river from the window. Although it was only an hour or an hour and a half long, to us, it seemed to endure forever.
The storm also killed about 170 people in other parts of eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa, Um Razaz and Marj, Health Minister Othman Abduljalil said.
Emergency workers sifting through the mud and rubble are still hopeful of finding survivors, IFRC said on Friday.
“The hope is there, is always there, to find people alive,” said Tamer Ramadan, head of the group’s rescue effort in the North African country.
The mayor [of Derna] is pushing relevant authorities to build a sea corridor for emergency relief and evacuations, the United Nations reported, “with the collapse of most roads.”
Petteri Taalas, head of the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, claimed that if the war-torn nation’s early warning and disaster management systems had operated well, more lives would have been prevented.
Better coordination would have allowed “them to issue the warnings and the emergency management forces to carry out the evacuation of the people, and we could have avoided the majority of human casualties,” according to Taalas.