Over 2,000 feared dead in devastating floods in Libya: What you need to know

DailyBiteSep 12, 2023 | 11:59

Over 2,000 feared dead in devastating floods in Libya: What you need to know

Mediterranean storm Daniel unleashed catastrophic flooding in Libya, resulting in the collapse of dams and widespread devastation in eastern coastal towns.

As a result, more than 2,000 people are feared dead, with thousands more reported missing, according to statements from local officials.

The disaster has severely impacted the city of Derna, once controlled by extremist groups, where two dams failed, submerging the area and causing significant loss of life.



Storm Daniel unleashes devastation

Storm Daniel struck Libya's eastern coastal towns on Sunday (September 10), leading to catastrophic flooding and extensive damage. Dams across the region collapsed, resulting in the loss of life and massive destruction of property.

Footage on social media and broadcast by eastern Libya's Almostkbal TV showed people stranded on the roofs of their vehicles calling for help, and waters washing away cars, as reported by AFP.

"The missing are in the thousands, and the dead exceed 2,000," Osama Hamad told al-Masar TV. "Entire neighborhoods in Derna have disappeared, along with their residents... swept away by water."


Derna worst affected

The eastern Libyan government, not internationally recognized, declared that the death toll exceeded 2,000 in Derna alone, with thousands still missing, as reported by AP. Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist, suggested the final death toll could rise even higher.

The city of Derna, previously held by extremist groups, suffered the brunt of the devastation, with entire neighborhoods wiped out. The collapse of two dams submerged much of the area, and authorities declared it a "disaster city."

"We recorded at least 150 deaths (in Derna) after the collapse of buildings. We expect the death toll to rise to 250. The situation is very catastrophic," the Red Crescent's Kais Fhakeri told Reuters.


Infrastructure and governance challenges

Libya's lack of a central government since the 2011 uprising, coupled with ongoing political division, has resulted in inadequate infrastructure and minimal regulation of construction. The storm has exposed these vulnerabilities, leading to a widespread humanitarian crisis.

Libya's eastern-based parliament declared three days of mourning. Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, Prime Minister of the interim government in Tripoli, also declared three days of mourning in all the affected cities, calling them "disaster areas."

His administration holds little sway in eastern Libya, but Dbeibah said he had directed all state agencies to "immediately deal" with the damage and floods in eastern cities, as reported by Reuters.

International response

Foreign governments, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Algeria, and Egypt, have expressed condolences and offered assistance. Local and international agencies are being urged to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the affected areas.

The United Nations in Libya said it was closely monitoring the storm and would "provide urgent relief assistance in support of response efforts at local and national levels."


Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani instructed the government to send aid to the affected area in eastern Libya, as reported by Qatar's state news agency. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, said his country would send humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue teams to eastern Libya, according to the UAE's state-run WAM news agency.

Ongoing search and rescue efforts

Search-and-rescue operations were ongoing, and authorities declared a state of extreme emergency, closing schools and stores and imposing a curfew.

The storm has exposed these vulnerabilities, leading to a widespread humanitarian crisis. (Photo: AFP)

Commander Khalifa Hifter has deployed troops to aid residents in the affected regions. However, reports indicate that some of these troops have lost contact while assisting families in perilous situations.

Four major oil ports in Libya, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, Brega, and Es Sidra, were closed from Saturday evening for three days, as confirmed by two oil engineers to Reuters.

Last updated: September 12, 2023 | 11:59
    Please log in
    I agree with DailyO's privacy policy