Libya Floods Claim 5,000 Lives, More Feared Dead

Libya floods claim 5,000 lives, more feared dead

Flooding in eastern Libya has left more than 5,100 people dead, officials said on Wednesday.

Thousands more people were missing in the eastern city of Derna, and tens of thousands displaced.

Mediterranean Storm Daniel arrived in Libya on Sunday, and caused two dams outside Derna to burst.

What is the current situation in Libya?

More than 7,000 people were injured in Derna, aid worker Ossama Ali told the Associated Press (AP). Most of them were being treated in field hospitals set up by authorities and aid agencies.

The city’s mayor, Abdulmenam Al-Ghaithi, believes as many as 20,000 residents could be dead.

The UN migration agency, the International Organization for Migration, said that at least 30,000 people in Derna had lost their homes to flooding. The agency said that the damage was so extensive that the city was almost inaccessible to aid workers.

Aid workers search for survivors in Libya’s Derna

Derna lies on a narrow coastal plain on the Mediterranean under steep mountains. Only two roads from the south remain usable, hampering the movement of aid workers.

Aid workers and officials have said that the death toll is likely to keep rising, as bodies continue to wash up ashore.

“Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children,” Emad al-Falah, an aid worker from Benghazi, told AP. “Entire families were lost.”

War and corruption exacerbate disaster

A Libyan political analyst has called for the first general elections to be held in almost 10 years after the internationally-recognized Government of National Unity (GNU) postponed accepting international aid.

“Two rival governments that are perfectly happy to rule over the rubble whilst their citizens lay underneath it,” Anas El Gomati, founder of Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, told DW.

He said the Red Crescent and Libyan civilians themselves have been responsible for the bulk of the disaster recovery.

“And frankly, the local authorities there, the LNA or the rival administration in the west, they can step aside,” Gomati added. “They’ve done enough.”

Political tensions complicate rescue effort in Libya

Gomati also called for an inquiry into how the disaster occurred, from the dam above Derna not being maintained under the Gadhafi regime, all the way to corruption and “criminal negligence” in the present day.

“I certainly think there needs to be a postmortem figuratively and literally after the events,” he said.

Asma Khalifa from the German Institute for Global and Area Studies said Libya’s years-long civil war weakened the country’s institutions “and aided mass corruption and abuse of public funds.”

“It is the main reason for the chaotic response to the crisis,” she told the media.

EU pledges aid to Libya

Also on Wednesday, the EU Commission said that the bloc would provide disaster response equipment and humanitarian funding worth €500,000 ($537,000).

Among the equipment offered are tents, field beds, blankets, 80 generators, food items, hospital tents and water tanks.

The humanitarian funding is to go to organizations “operating on the ground to deliver lifesaving health and water and sanitation supplies.”

Libya’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva had requested help from the EU on Tuesday, the commission’s press release said.

The UN itself pledged $10 million to help survivors.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Turkey said it dispatched a ship carrying equipment to set up two field hospitals along with 148 medical staff. This comes in addition to the three planeloads of humanitarian workers it already sent.

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