Several days after the passage of Storm Daniel over Libya, there is strong mobilization to help the victims. At least 30,000 people have been displaced in Derna, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Wednesday (September 13), after devastating floods left thousands dead and missing in this Libyan coastal town, according to authorities. . Given the difficult access to this city of 100,000 inhabitants in eastern Libya, uncertainties remain over the exact number of victims of the disaster.
Cut roads, landslides and floods prevented relief from quickly reaching the population who had to manage by rudimentary means to recover bodies buried by the dozens in mass graves, according to images posted on social networks .
The IOM also reported 3,000 displaced people in El Beïda and more than 2,000 in Benghazi, other cities located further west. The organization explained that Derna was now only accessible via two entrances to the south (out of seven usually). According to her, widespread power outages and disruptions to the telecommunications network are limiting communications.
'Huge explosion' heard
While the country has been plunged into chaos since the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, divided between East and West, the authorities of the rival camps speak of “thousands” of deaths.
Osama Ali, spokesperson for the Libyan “rescue and emergency service” under the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the floods had caused “more than 2,300 deaths” and around 7,000 injured in Derna, while more than 5,000 people are missing.
An official from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported an “enormous” number of deaths which could number in the thousands, with 10,000 missing. Since the great earthquake which shook the town of Al-Marj (East) in 1963, this is the worst natural disaster experienced by Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya.
On Sunday afternoon, Storm Daniel reached the eastern coast of Libya, hitting the metropolis of Benghazi before heading east towards cities in Jebel Akhdar (northeast) such as Shahat (Cyrene), Al- Marj, El-Beïda and Soussa (Apollonia), but especially Derna, the most devastated city. During the night from Sunday to Monday, the two dams on Wadi Derna, which retain the waters of the wadi which crosses the city, failed.
Witnesses told Libyan media they heard a “huge explosion” before powerful torrents reached the city, overflowing the banks, washing away bridges and entire neighborhoods with their residents towards the Mediterranean.
In the country and abroad, the mobilization continues, even if help is still arriving in trickles. Rescue teams sent by Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have arrived in eastern Libya, according to authorities. Jordan has sent a plane full of humanitarian aid, the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization said on Wednesday. The plane contains tents, blankets, mattresses and food packages, she said.
The Italian Ministry of Defense also announced on Wednesday the departure of a ship and two military transport planes to transport experts and essential logistical equipment. Algeria and Egypt informed Tuesday that they had also sent aid.
France announced the deployment of a field hospital to help the affected populations, while the United States decided to send “emergency funds to relief organizations” and plans coordination with the Libyan authorities. and the UN to provide additional support.
The European Commission, for its part, communicated on Wednesday about the sending of aid from Germany, Romania and Finland to Derna, as part of the EU civil protection mechanism. “The mobilization of the [European] Commission continues,” tweeted a spokesperson for the European executive, Balazs Ujvari.