Aid arrives in flood-hit Libya as Derna death toll estimated at 11,300


Published: 2023-09-17 13:13

Last Updated: 2024-04-20 13:56

Aid arrives in flood-hit Libya as Derna death toll estimated at 11,300
Aid arrives in flood-hit Libya as Derna death toll estimated at 11,300

A week after a wall of water rushed through the Libyan coastal city of Derna, sweeping thousands to their deaths, the focus turned Sunday to caring for survivors of the disaster.

Estimates of the number of lives lost vary widely.

The most recent official death toll, from the health minister of the eastern-based administration, Othman Abdeljalil, is that 3,166 people were killed.

But according to a United Nations report released on Sunday, the toll from Derna alone has risen to 11,300.

Citing the Libyan Red Crescent, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs added that another 10,100 people were still missing in the devastated city.

"These figures are expected to rise in the coming days and weeks as search-and-rescue crews work tirelessly to find survivors," the OCHA report said.

Aid is now arriving in the North African country as the world mobilizes to help emergency services cope with the aftermath of the deadly flood.

At least 40,000 people have been displaced across northeastern Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration, which cautioned the actual number is likely higher given the difficulty accessing the worst-affected areas.

Two dams upstream from Derna burst a week ago under the pressure of torrential rains from the hurricane-strength Storm Daniel.

The dams had been built to protect the port city of 100,000 people after it was hit by significant flooding in the mid-20th century.

The banks of a dried riverbed or wadi running through the city center had been heavily built on, and last week's torrent swept everything before it as it rushed towards the Mediterranean.

A week on, bodies are still being found.

A rescue crew from Malta's Civil Protection Department discovered a beach strewn with dead bodies on Friday, the Times of Malta newspaper reported.

International aid is arriving from the United Nations, Europe and the Middle East, offering some relief to the thousands of survivors.

The aid includes essential medicines and emergency surgical supplies, as well as body bags to allow corpses to be moved.

Tents, blankets, carpets, hygiene kits and food have been flown in, along with heavy machinery to help clear the debris.