By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
TRIPOLI (Worthy News) – The floods from storm Daniel that devastated Libya became the country’s largest natural catastrophe in years Thursday, with authorities fearing that more than 20,000 people have died.
The eastern port city of Derna was especially hit hard by the floods after two dams broke due to damaged infrastructure and the intensity of the water, officials said.
The Libyan Red Crescent confirmed Friday that 11,300 died from the flooding in eastern Libya, but with another 10,100 still missing, authorities warned that more than 20,000 people had been killed.
At least 30,000 people have been displaced by the floods, according to the International Organization for Migration, per CNN.
Getting supplies and aid to the devastated areas has proven difficult due to damaged roads and bridges as well as the current political situation in Libya.
The oil-rich country is split between two warring governments, further complicating rescue efforts.
SEA DUMPING BODIES
As the sea dumped the bodies of the dead, doctors were struggling to keep injured survivors alive.
Footage seen by Worthy News showed a hospital partly underwater with exhausted doctors and others trying to keep the rages waters away from patients needing attention.
Elsewhere, entire neighborhoods were swept away or destroyed in the floods.
However, officials and experts claim the damage was preventable if only the buildings, dams, and infrastructure had been updated.
Adding to the controversy were indications that authorities had been warned by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the impending disaster.
“If there would have been a normal operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings,” WMO head Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland. “The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out the evacuation.”
The WMO also stressed that the National Meteorological Center issued warnings 72 hours before the flooding, notifying all governmental authorities by email and media.
Officials in eastern Libya countered that they warned the public about the coming storm, and on Saturday, they ordered residents to evacuate coastal areas, fearing a surge from the sea.
But there was no warning about two dams collapsing, which happened the next day on Sunday, September 10.
The hurricane-strength Storm Daniel made landfall in eastern Libya, triggering torrential rain in the hills above the port city of Derna.
That deluge overwhelmed two weak upstream dams and sent a wall of water and debris down the normally dry riverbed that cuts through Derna’s city center, witnesses said.
Constructed in the 1970s, the two dams were not maintained for years. Like much of the city’s crumbling infrastructure, they stood no chance against the weight of the floodwaters.
The result was heartbreaking, witnesses suggested. Whole neighborhoods and their residents were washed out to sea, while much of the rest of the city was submerged.
Libya’s Tripoli-based prime minister blamed the tragedy on the absence of adequate development plans and the “effect of the years” on the dams.
“This is one of the results of the conflict and wars and the money that was lost,” Dbeibah said during a televised meeting with ministers and experts.
The Northern African nation has been wracked by conflict and division since the U.S.-led NATO military alliance backed an uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Following the uprising, Libya country is currently ruled by two rival administrations.
In the west is the United Nations-brokered, internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital, Tripoli, and led by Abdulhamid Dbeibah.
However, a rival administration is ruling the flood-ravaged east, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, perhaps making it more difficult for aid groups to enter.
The power battles have repeatedly degenerated into deadly conflict, but a 2020 ceasefire that ended a bloody assault by Haftar’s forces on Tripoli has largely held, observers say.
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