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Eastern Libya flooding: 2,000 feared dead, PM Hamad announces three-day mourning


Seaside road is collapsed after heavy flooding in Derna
Image Source : AP Seaside road is collapsed after heavy flooding in Derna

Nearly 2,000 people were feared dead in the devastating floods caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel in Libya, sweeping away neighbourhoods and wrecked homes in various coastal towns in the east of the North African nation, according to one of the leaders on Monday.

The greatest destruction was reported in Derna, a city that was previously held by Islamic extremists in the chaos that Libya was into for over a decade, leaving it with inadequate infrastructure. Libya is divided between two rival administrations – one in the east and the other in the west. Both are backed by militias and foreign governments.

The health authorities confirmed 61 people as dead as on late Monday, however, the numbers did not include those from Derna which had become inaccessible with several thousands who were reported missing were believed to have been swept away by waters.

The residents posted videos of the city online which displayed vast devastation in which the entire residential areas were blown along a river that flows from the mountains through the city centre.

Prime Minister Ossama Hamad of the east Libyan government said that 2,000 were feared dead in Derna and thousands others were believed to be missing. He declared Derna a disaster zone.

Ahmed al-Mosmari, a spokesman for the country’s armed forces based in the east said that the death count in Derna had breached the 2,000 mark, with nearly 5,000 to 6,000 people missing.

Al-Mosmari cited the the collapse of two nearby dams as the reason for the disaster which caused a lethal flash flood.

Since a 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has lacked a central government and the resulting lawlessness has meant dwindling investment in the country’s roads and public services and also minimal regulation of private building. With the rival governments ruling in the east and the west, both are backed by militias.

Over 45 people were reported dead in the eastern town of Bayda, Abdel-Rahim Mazek, head of the town’s main medical centre said.

According to the Ambulance and Emergency Authority, seven more people were reported dead in the coastal town of Susa in northeastern Libya.

Ossama Abduljaleel, health minister, said that seven were reported dead in the towns of Shahatt and Omar al-Mokhtar. One was reported dead on Sunday in Marj town.

Georgette Gagnon, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya, said that according to the initial reports, several villages and towns were severely affected.

“I am deeply saddened by the severe impact of (storm) Daniel on the country…I call on all local, national, and international partners to join hands to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people in eastern Libya,” she wrote on X platform, formerly Twitter.

Ossama Hamad, the prime minister of the east Libya government, declared Derna a disaster zone after heavy rainfall and floods destroyed much of the city which is located in the delta of the small Wadi Derna on Libya’s east coast.

The prime minister also announced three days of mourning and ordered flags across the country to be lowered to half-staff.

(With AP inputs)

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