Mediterranean Storm Daniel caused devastating floods in Libya that swept away entire neighborhoods and wrecked homes in multiple coastal towns in the east of the North African nation. As many as 2,000 people were feared dead, the leader of a self-proclaimed government in the east of country has said.
The destruction appears greatest in Derna, a city in the east of the country. Libya remains divided between two rival administrations, one in the east and one in the west, each backed by militias and foreign governments.
The head of the Red Crescent aid group in the region had earlier on Monday said Derna’s death toll was at 150, but was expected to rise.
In a phone interview with Almasar television station Monday, Prime Minister Osama Hamad of the east Libyan government said that 2,000 were feared dead in Derna, and thousands were believed missing. He said Derna has been declared a disaster zone.
Ahmed al-Mosmari, a spokesperson for military forces under the command of the eastern government, told a news conference that the death toll in Derna had surpassed 2,000. He said there were between 5,000 and 6,000 reported missing. Al-Mosmari attributed the catastrophe to the collapse of two nearby dams, causing a lethal flash flood.
At least 46 people were reported dead in the eastern town of Bayda, Abdel-Rahim Mazek, head of the town’s main medical centre said. Another seven people were reported dead in the coastal town of Susa in northeastern Libya, according to the Ambulance and Emergency Authority. Seven others were reported dead in the towns of Shahatt and Omar al-Mokhtar, said Ossama Abduljaleel, health minister. One person was reported dead Sunday in the town of al-Marj.
The Libyan Red Crescent said it lost contact with one of its workers as he attempted to help a stuck family in Bayda. Dozens of others were reported missing, and authorities fear they could have died in the floods that destroyed homes and other properties in several towns in eastern Libya, according to local media.
In Derna, local media said the situation was catastrophic with no electricity or communications.
Georgette Gagnon, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya, said early reports showed that dozens of villages and towns were “severely affected … with widespread flooding, damage to infrastructure, and loss of life”.
Storm Daniel is expected to arrive in parts of west Egypt on Monday, and the country’s meteorological authorities warned about possible rain and bad weather.