More than 5,300 people have been killed after Storm Daniel unleashed devastating floods in Libya.
Emergency workers fear the toll could rise much further with 10,000 people still believed missing after floodwaters smashed through dams and washed away entire neighbourhoods in the eastern city of Derna.
Aid from further afield was only just starting to reach Derna on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after the disaster struck. The floods have damaged or destroyed many access roads to the coastal area, which is home to some 89,000 people.
Footage showed dozens of bodies covered by blankets in the yard of one local hospital, while one image showed a mass grave piled with bodies. More than 1,500 bodies have now been retrieved, with half of them had been buried as of Tuesday evening, eastern Libya’s health minister said.
Libya is divided by rival governments – one in the east, the other in the west – resulting in a neglect of infrastructure in many areas. Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a UN briefing in Geneva via video conference from Tunisia that at least 10,000 people were still missing. He said later on Tuesday that more than 40,000 people have been displaced.
The situation in Libya is “as devastating as the situation in Morocco”, Mr. Ramadan said, referring to the deadly earthquake that hit near the city of Marrakesh on Friday night. The destruction came to Derna and other parts of eastern Libya just two nights later. As Storm Daniel pounded the coast, residents said they heard loud explosions and realized that dams outside the city had collapsed.