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Libya: How Catastrophic Floods Deface Derna

By Yemi Olakitan, Salifu Faridat

The eastern coastal city of Derna in Libya has been struck by a tragic disaster as the death toll resulting from severe floods unleashed by Storm Daniel on Wednesday has soared to over 6,000, according to local authorities.

This heart-wrenching number is expected to rise as recovery efforts persist in the city, which has been left in ruins by the destructive deluge.

The shocking death toll and destruction caused by storm Daniel testify to both its intensity and the vulnerability of the North African state, which was hammered by more than ten years of internal strife that undermined vital infrastructure.

Two dams that burst and whose maintenance history has since been called into question had a significant impact on Derna.

This is because more international rescue squads and organisations providing humanitarian help are anticipated in the upcoming hours.

The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration in Libya reported that more than 30,000 people have been displaced by the catastrophic flooding.

The city of Derna now faces the grim task of rapidly burying the deceased, as bodies accumulate on its streets following the breach of two dams, which swept homes into the sea.

Saadeddin Abdul Wakil, the undersecretary of the Unity Government’s health ministry in Tripoli (one of the two rival governments in Libya), verified the staggering casualty figure, stating, “Morgues in hospitals are overwhelmed, despite the urgent need to care for survivors of this disaster.”

Meanwhile, in Egypt, the government conducted the burials of 87 Egyptian victims who tragically lost their lives in Libya, as revealed by the country’s emigration ministry.

Additionally, an estimated 10,000 individuals remain missing, possibly swept into the sea or buried beneath the debris strewn throughout a city that once housed over 100,000 residents.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, President Bola Tinubu, has declared in a statement that his administration is prepared to offer all necessary assistance to the Libyans affected by the disastrous floods that accompanied Mediterranean Storm Daniel on Sunday.

“President Tinubu condoles with Libya over Storm Daniel and resulting floods,” according to a statement released to the public. The worst-hit area, the eastern port city of Derna, where more than 34,000 people were forced to flee, has so far seen the recovery of at least 5,300 bodies.

The President expressed his condolences to all of the families who had lost loved ones in what he called a “monumental disaster.”

All those hurt in the unfortunate accident received his warmest wishes for a quick recovery. Affirming Nigeria’s “unwavering solidarity and goodwill during these trying times,” the Nigerian leader reassured the Libyan people of their country’s “unwavering support and goodwill.”

He also said that “this disheartening loss of lives, homes, livelihoods, and critical infrastructure remains a shared grief that further unites the people of both nations.”

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs also expressed its sympathy for the Libyan people during this period of adversity.

Prof. Salisu Shehu, the council’s Deputy Secretary-General, urged the global Ummah, humanitarian agencies, governments, organizations, and individuals to offer support to Libya in these trying times.

The council conveyed its condolences to His Excellency, Mohammed al-Menfi, the government, and the people of Libya, acknowledging the unfortunate disaster that has befallen the country.

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