Eastern Libya was recently thrust into a state of turmoil when Storm Daniel, a menacing weather system, unleashed torrential rains that resulted in devastating floods. This natural disaster, which followed its destructive path across the Mediterranean, left a trail of destruction in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece before striking the coastal regions of Libya.
As the floodwaters receded, the extent of the tragedy became apparent. Initial reports painted a harrowing picture of the disaster, with the prime minister of the east-based government, Oussama Hamad, stating that “more than 2,000 were dead and thousands missing” in the city of Derna alone. However, these figures were met with skepticism, as no medical sources or emergency services could confirm such a staggering loss of life. Other reports from various areas provided significantly lower death tolls.
Ongoing Rescue Operations
Mohamed Massoud, a spokesperson for the east-based government, confirmed that at least 150 lives were lost due to flooding and torrential rains in Derna, Jabal al-Akhdar region, and the suburbs of Al-Marj. These tragic deaths were accompanied by extensive material damage to public and private properties.
As rescue efforts continue, hundreds of residents are believed to remain trapped in areas that are difficult to access. Trained rescuers, supported by the army, are working tirelessly to reach those in need. Tragically, during these operations, East Libyan authorities lost contact with nine soldiers.
Experts have characterized Storm Daniel as “extreme in terms of the amount of water falling in a space of 24 hours.” The relentless rainfalls it brought were instrumental in causing the catastrophic floods that have overwhelmed eastern Libya.
Declarations of Mourning
In response to the disaster, Hamad’s government declared Derna a “disaster area.” Meanwhile, Libya’s western government, led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, declared three days of national mourning and emphasized the need for unity among all Libyans in the face of this tragedy.
The National Petroleum Company, a vital entity with its main oilfields and terminals in eastern Libya, declared a “state of maximum alert” and suspended flights between production sites due to the drastic reduction in activity.
Pleas for Assistance
A Derna city council official described the situation as “catastrophic” and appealed for both national and international intervention. He reported the collapse of crucial infrastructure, including four main bridges, two buildings, and two dams, in a city of 100,000 people located in a river wadi 900 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli.
The United Nations mission in Libya expressed its condolences over the loss of lives and pledged its readiness to support local authorities and municipalities in responding to the emergency and providing urgent humanitarian assistance.
Eastern Libya is grappling with an unprecedented tragedy, as the aftermath of Storm Daniel’s torrential rains and floods continues to unfold. While the nation comes to terms with the extent of the damage and loss of life, the importance of national and international assistance in this hour of need cannot be overstated. It is a stark reminder that climate-related disasters can strike with devastating consequences, underscoring the urgent need for both preparedness and global action to address the climate crisis.