Tragic Toll of Flooding in Derna, Libya Surpasses 5,100, Relief Efforts Struggle

by Chloe Baker
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fokus keyword: Derna Flooding Tragedy

In a grim development, the death toll resulting from the catastrophic flooding that ravaged the eastern Libyan city of Derna has soared past 5,100, and the numbers are anticipated to climb even further, according to a statement by a local health official on Wednesday. Authorities are grappling with the monumental challenge of delivering aid to the beleaguered coastal city, where thousands are still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands have been rendered homeless.

Aid workers who managed to access Derna, a city isolated since Sunday night when flash floods obliterated most of its access routes, described scenes of utter devastation. Search and rescue teams are painstakingly combing through the debris of shattered apartment buildings, retrieving lifeless bodies that had been tragically swept into the Mediterranean Sea.

Emad al-Falah, an aid worker hailing from Benghazi, conveyed the grim reality over the phone from Derna, stating, “Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children. Entire families have been lost.”

The calamitous flooding was precipitated by Mediterranean storm Daniel, wreaking havoc across multiple towns in eastern Libya. Derna bore the brunt of this natural disaster, with witnesses reporting thunderous explosions as the dams surrounding the city succumbed to the deluge. Torrential floodwaters surged down Wadi Derna, a river coursing from the mountains through the heart of the city and into the sea.

Yann Fridez, the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya, underscored the enormity of the tragedy, stating, “The city of Derna was submerged by waves 7 meters (23 feet) high that destroyed everything in their path.”

Derna’s geographical location, nestled on a narrow coastal plain against the backdrop of steep coastal mountains, has further exacerbated the logistical challenges. Only two southern access roads remain operational, both requiring a circuitous route through the rugged mountains.

Aid teams, equipped with limited supplies, have managed to access the city through these routes. Meanwhile, local emergency responders are making do with the resources at their disposal, while eastern Libyan authorities are diligently working to restore damaged coastal access routes. Collapsed bridges over Wadi Derna have severed the city center, further impeding relief efforts.

Ossama Ali, a spokesman for the Ambulance and Emergency Center in eastern Libya, grimly reported that Derna has recorded at least 5,100 deaths, with an additional 100 casualties reported in other parts of eastern Libya. Over 7,000 individuals in Derna have sustained injuries, most of whom are receiving treatment in makeshift field hospitals hastily erected by authorities and aid agencies.

The death toll is anticipated to rise as recovery teams continue their arduous task of retrieving bodies from the inundated streets, buildings, and the sea. Moreover, an alarming 9,000 individuals are still unaccounted for, a number that may diminish as communication networks are gradually restored.

The International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, disclosed that over 30,000 residents of Derna have been displaced by the deluge. Humanitarian aid workers face daunting challenges in accessing the city, rendering relief efforts almost unfeasible.

This catastrophic event underscores the intensity of the storm and also exposes Libya’s vulnerability. The nation is marred by a political divide, with rival governments in the east and west, resulting in the neglect of critical infrastructure in many regions.

As bulldozers labor to repair and clear roadways, enabling the delivery of humanitarian aid and heavy equipment, the city of Derna remains gripped by the aftermath of this devastating flooding. Derna lies 250 kilometers (150 miles) to the east of Benghazi, where international aid began arriving on Tuesday.

In response to the crisis, Libya’s neighboring countries, including Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, as well as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, have dispatched rescue teams and aid. President Joe Biden announced the provision of emergency funds to relief organizations and pledged cooperation with Libyan authorities and the United Nations to offer further support.

The toll of tragedy has touched the hearts of people across the region, reflecting Libya’s historic role as a magnet for laborers drawn by its oil industry. A significant number of the deceased in Derna hailed from el-Sharif, a southern Egyptian village. This grim reality culminated in mass funerals for the victims in both Egypt and Libya, highlighting the profound impact of this disaster.

Derna, situated approximately 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli, is under the control of the forces led by powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter, who is aligned with the eastern Libyan government. In stark contrast, the rival government in western Libya, headquartered in Tripoli, maintains affiliations with other armed factions.

Much of Derna’s infrastructure was developed during Italy’s colonial occupation in the first half of the 20th century. The city has witnessed periods of extremist influence in the tumultuous years following the NATO-backed uprising that led to the overthrow and demise of the longstanding dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, in 2011.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Derna Flooding Tragedy

What caused the flooding in Derna, Libya?

The flooding in Derna, Libya, was caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel, which brought torrential rain and resulted in the collapse of dams outside the city. The floodwaters, reaching heights of 7 meters (23 feet), inundated the city and caused extensive damage.

What is the current death toll in Derna?

As of the latest reports, the death toll in Derna has exceeded 5,100. This number is expected to rise further as recovery teams continue to retrieve bodies from various locations, including streets, buildings, and the sea.

How many people have been injured in Derna?

More than 7,000 individuals in Derna have sustained injuries as a result of the flooding. Most of these injured residents are receiving treatment in field hospitals established by authorities and aid agencies.

What is the extent of displacement in Derna?

The catastrophic flooding in Derna has led to the displacement of over 30,000 people. The city remains largely inaccessible for humanitarian aid workers, making relief efforts exceptionally challenging.

What is the response from the international community?

Several neighboring countries, including Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, have sent rescue teams and aid to assist with the crisis. Additionally, President Joe Biden has pledged emergency funds and cooperation with Libyan authorities and the United Nations to provide further support.

Why is Libya particularly vulnerable to such disasters?

Libya’s vulnerability to natural disasters like this flooding is exacerbated by its political divide, with rival governments in the eastern and western regions. This divide has often resulted in neglect of critical infrastructure in various areas of the country.

How are bodies of the deceased being managed?

Hundreds of bodies, including those of foreign workers, have been transferred to morgues in nearby towns. The sheer scale of the tragedy has necessitated mass burials, and the impact is felt not only in Libya but also in the home countries of the victims, where mass funerals are being held.

What is the historical background of Derna?

Derna, located 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli, has a history marked by periods of external influence, including Italian colonial occupation in the first half of the 20th century. It also saw a rise in extremist activity in the years following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that led to the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

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