In Libya, the town of Derna devastated by a storm: “districts” disappeared and “more than 2,000 dead”, according to the authorities in the east of the country

In eastern Libya, Storm Daniel left immeasurable human and material damage between Saturday September 9 and Monday September 11

In Libya, the town of Derna devastated by a storm: “districts” disappeared and “more than 2,000 dead”, according to the authorities in the east of the country

In eastern Libya, Storm Daniel left immeasurable human and material damage between Saturday September 9 and Monday September 11. In Derna, the consequences of the disaster are terrifying. The torrential rains accumulated in the mountainous region of Jabal Al Akhdar, which overlooks the coastal city, flowed along the massif breaking two dams, submerged by the excessively large reservoir volumes. They devastated everything in their path.

The flood swept away the inhabitants of Derna, its trees, its houses, its buildings, its streets, its squares and everything that made up a part of this city of 100,000 inhabitants. It left only a gaping scar in the middle of the city. In a telephone interview on Monday with the Libyan media Al-Marsad, Osama Hammad, the Prime Minister of Eastern Libya, whose authority is not recognized by the international community, indicated that in this “stricken” city. , “entire neighborhoods have disappeared.” According to him, the human toll of this calamity amounts to more than “2,000 dead” and “thousands of missing”. His interior minister, Essam Abu Zeriba, was even more alarmist, affirming the same day on the Al-Arabiya satellite channel that "more than 5,000 people are missing in Derna" and that many victims have been reported. been carried towards the Mediterranean Sea. All these estimates are provisional. These do not take into account the dead and missing in other cities affected by the flood such as Al-Marj, El-Baïda or even Benghazi, the second city in the country.

In Derna, a gaping hole in the middle of the city

After violently sweeping Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, killing at least 27 people in its path, the meteorological phenomenon, described as "extreme in terms of the amount of water that fell" by experts, continued its path towards the 'North Africa. On the night of Saturday September 9 to Sunday September 10, it reached the coasts of eastern Libya, generating torrential rains and violent winds over a vast region between Benghazi and Tobruk, causing significant human and material damage.

The numerous images shared by Libyan Internet users attest to the violence of the storm. In the El-Beïda region, the flood exceeded two meters in places, engulfing houses and carrying away parked cars. In a video posted on social networks, we see a man caught by the current moving away into the unknown while another lets out desperate cries: “Hold on, hold on! » In other places, water has gutted the roads, making it impossible for vehicles to pass through and considerably complicating rescue operations. Access to electricity and means of communication has also been seriously affected.

But it is in Derna that the damage seems most considerable. A video on social media shows a gaping hole in the middle of the city, following the path of the watercourse descending from the mountain to the coast and scenes of devastation as far as the eye can see. Derna, one of the first towns to fall to the rebellion during the 2011 revolution against the power of Muammar Gaddafi, now known as a bastion of local jihadism, had been the scene of several battles over the years of civil war. However, she had never experienced such desolation.

Estimates still partial

In this vast mountainous region where the few infrastructures have been heavily damaged and many roads cut, estimates of the number of dead and injured, as well as material damage, still seem very partial. During the day on Monday, the Libyan television channel Al-Hurra was first able to confirm the death of at least 25 people, from medical sources, without giving further details. Another report given by the spokesperson for General Khalifa Haftar, the head of the parallel executive based in Benghazi, reported “at least 150 people killed due to the floods caused by Storm Daniel”.

Other local media reported numerous deaths in different municipalities and dozens of people missing, including eight soldiers who were trying to help the victims. The Libyan Red Crescent announced that one of its members, Hussein Buzenouba, had died “while trying to get a stranded family out.”

Faced with the scale of the disaster, the Libyan National Army, which controls the east of the country, was mobilized on the instructions of General Khalifa Haftar to come to the aid of those affected by the flood. An envelope of 200 million dinars (around 38 million euros) has also been released to support the many affected municipalities.

In the west of the country, the disaster also caused reactions. From Tripoli, the capital, the government of national unity, recognized by the international community, called on Sunday "all public and competent authorities" to "take urgent and exceptional measures and exploit all their capacities to deal with the serious damage caused to public and private properties in the affected municipalities”.

His Minister of the Interior, Imed Trabelsi, also instructed the security forces, which have no base in the east of the country, to bring together 1,000 people from different bodies “in order to move to support the leaderships security in the eastern region”. Several convoys of emergency vehicles left Tripolitania on Monday to go to Cyrenaica, ironing out the political divisions that usually undermine Libya for the duration of a tragedy.

The United Nations in Libya announced it was monitoring “closely the emergency situation caused by extreme weather conditions in the eastern region of the country” and said it was ready “to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to complement national and local efforts ". France also offered its condolences through its embassy in Tripoli, as did neighboring Tunisia.