Libya, September 12, 2023 - A devastating flood, described as "catastrophic" by officials, has struck the eastern part of Libya, leaving a trail of destruction and an alarming death toll in its wake. According to reports, Storm Daniel unleashed torrential rains and triggered severe flooding, causing entire neighborhoods to be swept into the sea. While the exact number of casualties remains unverified, eastern Libyan officials have provided grim estimates.
Ahmed Mismari, the spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) based in the east, addressed the media in a press conference on Monday. He revealed that in the hard-hit city of Derna alone, more than 2,000 people are feared dead, and an additional 5,000 to 6,000 individuals are currently reported as missing. However, it's crucial to note that CNN has not independently confirmed these figures, and Mismari did not specify the source of this information.
The Red Crescent in Benghazi had earlier estimated a death toll of 150 to 250 individuals in Derna, according to Reuters. The situation continues to evolve rapidly, making accurate assessments challenging.
The root cause of this calamity appears to be the severe pressure exerted by the relentless downpours in Derna, which led to the collapse of crucial dams. This catastrophic event resulted in the widespread destruction of homes and roads, exacerbating the crisis further.
Mismari clarified that the dam failures were responsible for the catastrophic flooding. "As a consequence," he stated, "three bridges were destroyed. The flowing water carried away entire neighborhoods, eventually depositing them into the sea." The impact of the disaster has been felt along the eastern coast, extending all the way to Benghazi.
As rescue and recovery efforts are underway, the focus remains on assessing the full extent of the damage and providing aid to affected communities. This tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of regions prone to extreme weather events and the urgent need for disaster preparedness and mitigation measures.
Following the flood and flash flood events that hit north-eastern Libya, according to WHO sources as of 14 September, over 5,000 are presumed dead, with a total of 3,922 deaths having been registered in hospitals. Over 10,000 people are still missing, so the numbers are likely an underestimation given the limited data available. Humanitarian partners are requesting USD 71.4 million to respond to the most urgent needs of 250,000 people targeted out of the 884,000 people estimated to be in need, over the next three months. Following the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on 12 September, 7 EU Member States (DE, FI, FR, IT, NL, RO, BE) have offered assistance consisting of an emergency medical team, search and rescue teams and equipment, heavy machinery, technical expertise and in-kind assistance (shelter, food and non-food items, power generators). In addition to EUR 500 000 released earlier this week to respond to urgent wash and health needs, DG ECHO has mobilised another EUR 5,2 million to address needs resulting from the floods, bringing the total funding to 5,7 million.(ECHO, 15 Sep 2023)