Catastrophic Storm Floods Devastate Eastern Libya: Fear of Soaring Death Toll

Catastrophic Storm Floods Devastate Eastern Libya: Fear of Soaring Death Toll

Powerful Storm Unleashes Tragedy

In the eastern region of Libya, a catastrophic storm has struck, leaving behind a trail of destruction, a spiraling death toll, and thousands of missing persons. The storm swept across the area’s mountainous terrains and coastline, resulting in the obliteration of two dams and the unleashing of a relentless torrent of muddy water that swept away buildings, homes, and entire families.

Mounting Death Toll and Daunting Challenges

According to Libyan National Army spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari, the toll from floodwaters in the city of Derna alone has exceeded 2,000 casualties following Storm Daniel’s landfall on Sunday. Shockingly, thousands more remain unaccounted for. Eastern Libya’s health minister confirmed the collection of over 1,000 victims’ bodies.

Yet, Libyan authorities face formidable challenges. Access to many affected areas is severely restricted, making it a daunting task to determine the precise count of casualties and the number of missing individuals. As a response, local emergency responders, including troops, government workers, volunteers, and courageous residents, are meticulously searching through debris to recover the deceased. Some have resorted to employing inflatable boats to retrieve bodies from the engulfed areas.

Benghazi: An Aid Hub

Benghazi, the regional capital, has evolved into a vital aid hub for international assistance. Egypt, Libya’s eastern neighbor, has dispatched military teams and helicopters to aid in the crisis. Egypt’s military chief of staff visited the affected areas to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts. Additionally, Egypt is providing three planes laden with medical and food supplies, deploying 25 rescue teams equipped for the mission, and sending an additional aircraft for medical evacuations.

International Aid and Tragic Loss

Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have all pledged their support for search and rescue operations in the devastated region.

In the wake of this catastrophe, entire families have perished, leaving survivors with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Tens of thousands of individuals in various parts of eastern Libya have been rendered homeless and displaced by the destructive storm.

Dax Roque, the country director for Libya at the Norwegian Refugee Council, underscores the gravity of the situation, stating that this disaster exacerbates the hardships faced by Libyans who have already endured years of conflict, poverty, and displacement.

Catastrophic Storm Floods Devastate Eastern Libya: Fear of Soaring Death Toll

Formidable Search and Rescue Conditions

The situation on the ground remains dire. Roads that once connected eastern cities are either completely destroyed or submerged underwater, while others are partially inaccessible. The mountainous terrain, notably in areas like Jebel Akhdar in the northeast, has further complicated search and rescue operations.

Moreover, limited internet and phone connectivity in the affected regions have hampered communication. Thus, the world relies partly on social media videos from affected areas to comprehend the scale of the devastation. These videos depict grim scenes of bodies in the streets, rescue workers struggling to save lives in fast-flowing floodwaters, and piles of twisted metal where cars once stood.

Appeal for International Aid

Roque, from the Norwegian Refugee Council, urges the international community to provide greater assistance to Libya, emphasizing that hospitals and shelters are overwhelmed amid the massive wave of displacement.

Divided Rule Hinders Response

Libya’s infrastructure, already weakened by years of conflict and instability, was ill-equipped to respond to such a colossal catastrophe. The country is divided, with rival governments operating in the east and the capital, Tripoli. Additionally, Libya has become a major transit route for illegal migration to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, underscoring the corruption and disarray in parts of the country since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Libya’s National Army reports that foreigners are among the casualties, and a number of civil defense personnel and Libyan soldiers engaged in rescue operations have also tragically lost their lives. Nevertheless, al-Mismari, the spokesman for the Libyan National Army, highlights the unity of the Libyan people during this crisis, with aid pouring in from areas under rival government control, including Tripoli and Misrata.

US Ready to Offer Humanitarian Aid

The United States has expressed its readiness to provide humanitarian aid to Libya and is currently assessing the most effective means to extend assistance to the nation in dire need.

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