(Photo courtesy of Jamal Alkomaty | AP)

Death toll in Libya flooding passes 5,000

Authorities in Derna, Libya reported the devastating flooding had killed at least 5,100 people, with the count expected to rise as more victims are confirmed.

Mediterranean Cyclone Daniel made landfall in eastern Libya on Sunday, striking coastal areas and towns with rain and collapsing two dams in the mountains outside Derna. Floodwaters as high as 7 meters swept through the city, carrying away homes and families. Eyewitnesses told the Associated Press it was “like a Hollywood horror movie.”

At least 9,000 people remain missing, with over 30,000 displaced by the storm according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. Around 7,000 are receiving treatment in field hospitals, but getting humanitarian aid to the area remains tricky, as only two roads into Derna remain usable, both running through difficult mountain terrain.

The high death toll and devastation are attributed to the country’s unprepared infrastructure – the result of the civil war and humanitarian crisis which followed the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country remains controlled by two rival governments in an uneasy ceasefire and provisional unity. Eastern Libya is controlled by the Libyan National Army.

However, Libyan National Army spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari stated in a Monday press conference that the response within the country shows the Libyans are “one people,” as aid comes from areas under rival government control, including the western capital of Tripoli.

Egypt, which shares a border with the impacted region, has sent military teams and helicopters to help with relief efforts, as well as three plans full of supplies, 25 rescue teams and an additional plane for medical evacuations. Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have also promised to aid in search and rescue, and President Joe Biden has stated the U.S. will be sending emergency funds to relief efforts and Libyan authorities.

The same cyclone previously struck Greece earlier this month, flooding towns, roads and agricultural land in Thessaly and causing at least fifteen deaths, as well as seven in nearby Turkey and four in Bulgaria. It is one of the deadliest weather events of the 21st century, surpassed only by 2008’s Cyclone Nargis.


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