- The interior ministry of Libya’s eastern-based administration says more than 5,000 people have died in devastating floods caused by Storm Daniel.
- Aid agencies have so far provided lower estimates but warn the number of victims could sharply rise as thousands remain unaccounted.
UN refugee agency voices concern for thousands of flood victims
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Libya has voiced its concern for thousands of people missing or dead as a result of the floods in the country’s eastern region.
“Our thoughts are with the thousands of people affected by the recent storm in Libya,” said UNHCR in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
It added that the UNHCR was transferring urgent relief items including blankets, hygiene kits, and solar lamps to support those affected.
Survivors describe miracle escapes
Survivors in Derna have spoken to the Reuters news agency describing their ordeal.
“At first we just thought it was heavy rain but at midnight we heard a huge explosion and it was the dam bursting,” said Raja Sassi, 39, who survived with his wife and small daughter while the rest of his family died. The city centre was littered with corpses, he said.
His wife Nouriya al-Hasadi, 31, who had clung to her small daughter through their escape, said it was “miraculous” that they had survived.
Safia Mustafa, 41, a mother of two sons, said they managed to flee their home before the building collapsed. They climbed to the roof and escaped across the roofs of neighbouring blocks. Her son, Obai, 10, said he was praying to God for their survival.
Saliha Abu Bakr, a 46-year-old lawyer, said she and her two sisters had survived the disaster, but her mother had died. Water quickly engulfed their building, reaching the third floor.
The flood waters rushed into their apartment almost up to the ceiling and for what she said felt like three hours she held a piece of furniture trying to stay afloat. “I can swim, but when I tried to rescue my family I couldn’t do anything,” she said. The flood waters receded and they left the building shortly before it collapsed with her mother inside.
At least 20 percent of Derna destroyed, says deputy mayor
The deputy mayor of Derna, Ahmed Madroud, has told Al Jazeera that “at least 20 percent of the city has been destroyed”.
He explained by phone that the reason behind the devastation was related to the weak infrastructure in the city and the fact that many buildings were clustered in narrow streets located close to the river.
“When the river overflowed its banks, it just took all the buildings with it, and the families that were in it,” he said.
Haftar says focus on emergency response
Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who supports Libya’s eastern-based administration, says the immediate focus is on emergency response.
“We have directed the government to form a specialised committee to assess the damage, instantly begin the reconstruction of roads to facilitate transportation, restore the electricity and to take all immediate and needed measures in that regards,” he said in a televised statement.
“All official bodies, especially Libya’s central bank, should provide the urgent financial support needed so those executing can do their work and go ahead with reconstruction.”
Palestinian family of eight among dead in floods
A Palestinian family of eight is among the dead in eastern Libya, the consulate of Palestine in Benghazi has been quoted as saying by Libyan media.
A political adviser to Ambassador Ahmed Al-Deek said the deceased Palestinian family included Mahmoud al-Tawab, his wife and children.
The consulate said the total number of Palestinians confirmed dead in the storm was nine, and the number of missing Palestinians was three.
Dams collapsing in Derna cause devastating floods
Videos posted on social media have shown devastating flooding and remnants of collapsed dams upstream of the Libyan city of Derna.
Areas where two river valleys converged are now surrounded by huge pools of mud-coloured water, showed the videos.
Situation ‘extremely dire’: Red Cross vice president
Gilles Carbonnier, vice president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has told Al Jazeera the situation in eastern Libya “is extremely dire”.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people may have died, thousands more affected, people missing,” he said.
Carbonnier said the organisation has supported the Libyan Red Cross volunteers in the region to provide life-saving assistance and help them evacuate stranded people.
“The emergency now is to save lives and provide first aid,” he said, noting that what will also be needed is shelter, water and food “for all the victims of this terrible flooding”
Thousands dead or missing in eastern Libya
More than 5,000 people have been reported dead, according to the interior ministry of eastern Libya’s administration.
Thousands of others were reported missing as search and rescue efforts were under way in Derna – the hardest hit city by the floods after two dams burst from Storm Daniel.
Entire families reported dead or missing in deadly floods
A woman wailed loudly as she received a call saying most of her family were dead or missing as she waited at Tripoli airport in northwest Libya.
Her brother-in-law, Walid Abdulati, said, “We are not speaking about one or two people dead, but up to 10 members of each family dead.”
Karim al-Obaidi, a passenger on a plane from Tripoli to the east, said, “I have never felt as frightened as I do now … I lost contact with all my family, friends and neighbours.”
An Interior Ministry spokesperson told Al Jazeera that naval teams were searching for the “many families that were swept into the sea in the city of Derna”.
Death toll reaches 5,200: Eastern officials
The interior ministry of eastern Libya’s administration says the death toll has risen to at least 5,200 people.
“Around 5,200 people were killed in Derna city alone,” Tareq al-Kharaz, a spokesman for the ministry, told Anadolu Agency.
Aid agencies have so far provided lower figures but warn the number of victims could sharply rise as thousands remain unaccounted.
Al-Kharaz also said about 1,300 bodies have so far been buried after being identified by families.
“Entire families have vanished as a result of the deadly storm,” al-Kharaz said. “Many corpses could not be identified and were not buried.”
UN relief chief voices ‘deep concern’ over Libya floods
United Nations relief chief Martin Griffiths has voiced deep concern about the flood disaster in Libya.
“I am deeply concerned by the deadly flood emergency unfolding in Libya,” said Griffiths in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Our thoughts are with the affected people. Emergency teams are being mobilized to help on the ground,” he added.
NRC calls for urgent funding for victims of Libya’s disaster storm
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has made an urgent appeal for funding to help the victims of the floods in Libya.
“Humanitarian aid groups in Libya have been chronically underfunded. Now is the time to show solidarity with the people and help them on the long way back to recovery,” Dax Bennet Roque, the NRC’s country director for Libya, said in a statement.
“Our team in Libya is reporting a disastrous situation for some of the most impoverished communities along the north coast,” Roque explained. “Entire villages have been overwhelmed by the floods and the death toll continues to rise.”
He said that many families had lost all their belongings and search and rescue workers were looking for people missing.
“Tens of thousands of people are displaced with no prospect of going back home,” he added.
Turkish president voices support as Ankara sends aid to flood victims
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has voiced support and solidarity with Libya following the deadly flooding.
“May God have mercy on our brothers who lost their lives due to the flood disaster in Libya. I wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” said Erdogan in a post over X, previously known as Twitter.
He said that Turkey has sent three flights to Benghazi this morning, carrying craft have 168 rescuers, two search and rescue vehicles, and two rescue boats.
He added that Turkey will also send 170 tents, 600 blankets, 400 food boxes, 20 generators, 1,000 raincoats, 500 boots and 500 flashlights as part of its aid package to Libya.