Sea Dumps Bodies After Libya Floods Kill Thousands; Rescue Workers Struggling

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

DERNA, LIBYA (Worthy News) – A constant stream of bodies was seen in eastern Libya early Thursday as the official death toll of the nation’s deadliest flooding rose to far above 5,000.

Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding Sunday in many towns of eastern Libya, but the worst-hit was Derna, witnesses said. Two dams in the mountains collapsed, sending floodwaters roaring down the Wadi Derna River that swept away buildings and wiped out as much as a quarter of the eastern coastal city.

The sea was “constantly dumping dozens of bodies” with the death, noted Hisham Chkiouat, a minister in Libya’s eastern administration.

“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, said in published remarks. “Entire families were lost.”

More than 5,300 people are believed to have died after the floods hit Derna, officials said.

As victims lie wrapped in body bags and others have been buried in mass graves, there were desperate calls for more humanitarian support.


Roughly 10,000 people remain missing, while 30,000 people were estimated to have been displaced, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said on Wednesday.

Morgues and hospitals have been overwhelmed with bodies.

But with the hours ticking away, there were concerns that many more people than previously thought had been swept away by arguably Libya’s deadliest flooding in years.

“Waves rose as high as 7 meters (23 feet), Yann Fridez, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya, recalled in televised remarks.

Mohammed Derna, a teacher in the city, said he, his family, and neighbors rushed to the roof of their apartment building, stunned at the volume of water running by.

It reached the second story of many buildings, he explained. They watched people below, including women and children, being washed away.


“They were screaming, ‘Help, help,’” he said over the phone from a field hospital in Derna. “It was like a Hollywood horror movie.”

Footage seen by Worthy News showed raging waters as shocked, tearful people were shouting and saying Muslim prayers.

Storm Daniel and related flooding also hit other areas in eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa, and Marj.

Rescuers retrieved at least 150 bodies Wednesday from the sea off Bayda, bringing the death tally in the town to about 200, officials said.

The startling devastation underscored Libya’s vulnerability and ability to act in times of humanitarian crisis.

The Northern African nation is divided by rival governments, one in the east, the other in the west, and the result has been neglect of infrastructure in many areas, according to experts familiar with the situation.

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