The city of Derna in Libya has been left reeling in the aftermath of a devastating catastrophic flood that claimed thousands of lives and wreaked havoc across the region. A powerful storm unleashed a torrent of water, obliterating swathes of the Mediterranean city. Multi-storey buildings collapsed, trapping sleeping families inside, and leaving residents frantically searching for missing loved ones.
The grim statistics are staggering. As per Lieutenant Tarek al-Kharraz of the interior ministry, 3,840 deaths have been recorded in Derna so far, with 3,190 already buried. Tragically, this includes at least 400 foreigners, primarily from Sudan and Egypt. However, the situation may be even more dire, with Hichem Abu Chkiouat, the minister of civil aviation in the eastern Libyan administration, reporting over 5,300 confirmed deaths. This number is expected to rise significantly and could potentially double.
Catastrophic Flood deadly impact on Derna
Derna’s Mayor, Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi, paints a grim picture, estimating that the death toll in the city could reach between 18,000 to 20,000, considering the extensive destruction across various districts due to the flood. Heartbreaking stories of loss and tragedy are emerging, like Mahmud Abdulkarim, who lost his mother and brother when they failed to evacuate in time. Despite his pleas, his mother decided to stay, underestimating the impending catastrophe.
Mabrooka Elmesmary, a journalist who managed to leave Derna, describes the city as a “disaster on a massive scale,” with severe shortages of basic necessities like water, electricity, and fuel. The city’s landscape has been altered dramatically, with apartment buildings housing families being swept away. Many people attempting to flee are encountering blocked roads or are stranded in the city.
The number of missing individuals has been estimated at 10,000 by officials, while the UN aid agency OCHA believes it to be at least 5,000. The scenes of devastation are heartbreaking, with the beach littered with possessions swept away from homes, streets covered in deep mud, and buildings reduced to rubble.
Rescue teams from several countries have arrived in Derna to aid in the recovery efforts, but the situation remains dire. Derna’s mayor has expressed grave concerns about the possibility of epidemics due to the large number of bodies buried under rubble and in the water. This catastrophic flood has left Derna, once a bustling city, in a state of profound grief and despair, as residents grapple with the overwhelming scale of the tragedy.