Libya’s Catastrophic Flooding Claims 2,000 Lives, Leaves 10,000 Missing as Dams Break and Homes Vanish

Around 2,000 lives have been lost, and approximately 10,000 people are missing in the aftermath of Storm Daniel in Libya. The storm unleashed heavy rains in the northeast, causing two dams to collapse and inundating already flooded regions.

Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, described the situation as “huge” during a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland. In the city of Derna, one of the hardest-hit areas, as many as 6,000 people are unaccounted for, according to Othman Abduljalil, health minister in Libya’s eastern administration.

Dams failing under the deluge led to catastrophic flooding in Derna, resulting in the destruction of bridges and entire neighborhoods being washed away into the sea. The region is grappling with severe damage, with some areas completely devastated.

The torrential rain is attributed to a powerful low-pressure system that caused catastrophic flooding in Greece before developing into a tropical-like cyclone, known as a medicane, over the Mediterranean.

Concerns have arisen that political divisions within Libya may hinder aid efforts. The country has been embroiled in a decade-long power struggle between the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli and the eastern administration led by commander Khalifa Haftar. Derna falls under Haftar’s control.

The collapse of two dams exacerbated the disaster, causing extensive damage and hampering rescue efforts. Phone lines in Derna are down, further complicating the situation. Authorities admit they were unprepared for such a catastrophe, with weather conditions and the scale of the storm not adequately assessed.

Despite the challenges, several countries, including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, have offered aid, and search and rescue teams are working tirelessly to locate survivors.

This devastating storm in Libya is part of a global pattern of extreme weather events, from deadly floods in various countries to record-breaking heatwaves, which scientists attribute to human-caused climate change. The Mediterranean’s warmer waters are currently well above average, providing storms with additional energy. It’s a stark reminder of the urgency of addressing climate change.

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