More than 2,300 people have died in the floods that have devastated the town of Derna in eastern Libya, according to the emergency services, but the authorities and the Red Cross feared on Tuesday that the death toll would be much higher.
At least 10,000 people were reported to be missing in Libya on Tuesday due to floods brought on by a powerful storm that destroyed buildings, ruptured dams, and submerged up to 25% of the eastern city of Derna.
Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, gave the numbers of missing people during a briefing to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday. “The death toll is huge,” she said.
In the eastern city of Derna, which has seen the worst of the devastation, as many as 6,000 people are missing, Othman Abduljalil, health minister in Libya’s eastern administration, told Libya’s Almasar TV. On the way to Derna, a coastal city of around 125,000 inhabitants, saw vehicles overturned on the edges of roads, trees knocked down, and abandoned, flooded houses.
More than 2,000 bodies had already been recovered in Derna alone, and officials expected the death toll would be much higher, after Storm Daniel barrelled across the Mediterranean into a country crumbling from more than a decade of conflict.
Algeria has announced that it is sending “substantial humanitarian aid” in the form of food and medical supplies, tents and clothing, aboard eight military aircraft. Egypt and Italy have also announced that they are sending aid.
The US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, said that the embassy had issued a “declaration of humanitarian need (which) will authorise initial funding that the United States will provide in support of relief efforts in Libya”.
For its part, “the EU is closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to provide support”, said the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrel.