Search efforts are underway after 2 dams were breached due to heavy rains which caused catastrophic flooding. There are still over 10,000 people who have been reported missing.
On Sunday night, the city of Derna was overwhelmed by surging waters, resulting in the loss of entire families. Other towns in eastern Libya were similarly impacted by the floods. However, it is important to note that the reported death toll pertains solely to Derna, which is located approximately 190 miles east of Benghazi, the country’s second largest city.
Derna has a population of around 100,000 people. The flooding completely washed away entire neighborhoods, and to complicate matters, the hospitals there are not functional.
When the dams burst, residents said it sounded like explosions. The water surged down the valley of Wadi Derna, pulverizing buildings and pulling people out to sea.
There Were Warnings
A representative of the World Meteorological Organization said the National Meteorological Center had issued warnings via email as well as through the media 3 days before the flooding began, so there would have been enough time to conduct evacuations.
Peter Taalas, WMO head, stated: “If there would have been a normal operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings.”
“The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out the evacuation.”
According to eastern Libya officials, because of an anticipated sea surge, warnings were sent out to the public on Saturday ordering coastal residents to evacuate. The collapse of the dams, however, was not predicted.
Libya Dams Were in Need of Care
Both of the dams outside Derna were built in the 1970s, however, a 2-year-old 2021 audit report from a state agency indicated that maintenance had not been kept up for either dam. It is not known where the 2 million euros that had been earmarked for dam maintenance back in 2012 and 2013 went to.
Libya Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah ordered an immediate investigation from the Public Prosecutor into the collapse of the dams.
Climate Change Being Blamed
American politician Bernie Sanders took to social media and stated on X: “We know climate change is making these kinds of disasters worse and more frequent. The international community must come together now to address this existential threat.”
Said James Shaw on X: “There has been catastrophic climate-super charged flooding in Libya, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Spain, Las Vegas. Climate scientists warned for decades this would happen.”
One of the effects of climate change is that there is more and more heavy rain even in places that are usually dry. Because the atmosphere is overall hotter than it used to be, it has the ability to hold more moisture making even everyday rainstorms more dangerous much less storms like Daniel.
Storm Daniel developed in Greece causing record-breaking rainfall on September 5 and 6. The amount of rain that fell in Greece over 24 hours was the equivalent of what it normally gets in 18 months. Daniel moved on from Greece and landed in Libya on September 10. The economic impact in both countries will be devastating to say nothing of the effect on humanity.
Oh the Humanity
Morgues in Libya have reached their capacity and dead bodies remain in the streets. Bodies left to decompose are also cause for health concerns as they are potential biohazards due to fluids that are released from the body after death which may carry bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis viruses and HIV, as well as bacteria that cause diarrheal diseases like shigella and salmonella.
Humanitarian aid has been sent to Libya so far from the UAE, Turkey, Italy, Egypt, and Algeria.
See video from X social media here.