Death toll in Libya floods nearly 3,000 after Storm Daniel

Up to 10,000 people are missing and about twice as many have been displaced.

Up to 3,000 people have died and 10,000 are missing in the massive floods that have overwhelmed parts of eastern Libya.

Libya’s Red Crescent spokesman Taqfiq Shukri said on Tuesday that there are 2,084 people confirmed dead, while IFRC head Tamer Ramadan said: “The number of missing people is hitting 10,000 so far”.

Some 20,000 people have been displaced, according to estimates. Libya’s eastern administration, based in Benghazi, estimates that 3,000 people are dead.

In the capital Tripoli, Government of National Unity Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced on Tuesday that an aid plane carrying 14 tonnes of supplies and medical personnel is headed to Benghazi to help, although there are still difficulties entering the hardest-hit city of Derna.

Relief convoys are moving from west to east in divided Libya as the internationally recognised Tripoli government has declared the eastern region a disaster zone and announced it would be sending help.

The Benghazi administration says more than 1,000 bodies have been retrieved in the Mediterranean city of Derna.

INTERACTIVE - Libya Derna floods Storm Daniel-1694506930
(Al Jazeera)

On Monday, Storm Daniel swept eastern Libya, causing two dams on the Wadi Derna River to burst and send millions of cubic metres of water downstream to inundate the river plain, hitting Derna.

Apartment blocks partially collapsed, and a seafront bridge was washed away as tonnes of water rushed to the sea.

Reporting from Tripoli on Tuesday, Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina said it is not yet known how many people are missing in this natural disaster and estimates vary from 5,000 to 10,000 people.

“Authorities have struggled to reach Derna,” Traina said, “because roads leading to the city are destroyed or cut off by flooding.” However, he added, aid has begun to reach people outside Derna.

Communications with the city have been cut off by the storm, which had made gathering information on casualties and damage difficult.

Quarter of city ‘has disappeared’

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Hani Shennib of the National Council on Libya-US Relations said: “About 4sq km [1.5sq miles] at the heart of the city have been eroded completely.”

Libya floods
Devastation caused by floods generated by Storm Daniel on September 11, 2023, in Derna, Libya [Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Many patients and staff had to evacuate flooded hospitals, and many are still trapped in flooded areas, Traina said.

Tamer Ramadan, a member of an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation to Libya, expressed his concerns that dealing with the flooding is “beyond the capabilities of the government, of the national society, of the people” and that assistance from international actors would be needed.

Benghazi Minister of Civil Aviation Hichem Chkiouat managed to visit Derna and told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday: “Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings.”

The minister added: “I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 percent of the city has disappeared.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies