The Egyptian village that lost nearly 100 men in the Libya floods

At least 70 men from al-Sharif village in Egypt’s Beni Suef province died in Libya’s Derna that was struck by floods.

A man shows photos of his relatives who died in Libya after Storm Daniel hit the country, at Al Sharief village in Bani Swief province, Egypt
A man shows photos of his relatives who died in Libya after Storm Daniel hit the country, in al-Sharif village of Bani Suef province, Egypt, on September 13, 2023 [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

A village in Egypt is mourning the loss of more than 70 men in the devastating floods in eastern Libya, local media reported.

Social videos circulated by media outlets showed dozens of yellow ambulances bearing the victims’ bodies arriving in the village of al-Sharif in the governorate of Beni Suef, about 110km (68 miles) south of Cairo.

Hundreds of villagers surrounded the ambulances, wails of sorrow piercing the air.

On Tuesday, Libyan authorities said the bodies of 145 Egyptians who died in the floods had been transported back across the border.

At least 75 of the bodies were from al-Sharif, Egyptian media said.

Egypt has sent three military cargo planes to Libya, carrying search and rescue teams and aid including medical supplies and tents, according to the army’s spokesman.

Camps have been set up in the western coastal region bordering Libya to provide shelter for “our impacted Libyan brothers who have lost their homes” in the floods, according to the official newspaper Al-Ahram, on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s directions.

The president “offered his condolences to the families of the Egyptian citizens who died in Libya”, his spokesman said on Wednesday, and directed officials to provide relatives of the deceased with “urgent aid”.

INTERACTIVE - Libya Floods Before After-1694592948
Libya floods, before and after [Al Jazeera]

Last Sunday, Storm Daniel caused deadly flooding in many towns in eastern Libya, hitting the coastal city of Derna the hardest.

Two dams above the city collapsed, sending floodwaters roaring down the Wadi Derna River’s path through the city centre, sweeping away entire blocks.

As much as a quarter of the city has disappeared, emergency officials said.

Back in Egypt, an al-Sharif resident said it was very common for men from the village to work in Derna.

“Our village has a population of about 2,000 people,” he said. “Some families lost one member, some two, others three. If we were at war, we wouldn’t have lost this many men.”

Hassan el-Salheen, an elderly resident, gripped his phone tightly, weeping. He was looking at a photo of his son Ali, dressed in a blue galabia – a loose-fitting traditional garment – who had died in the floods along with three other relatives.

“The last time I talked to him was 20 days ago. But last Thursday he called my brother and he was in a good mood, telling him that next time he comes to visit us he will bring lots of gifts for the family,” the elderly man said as sobs racked his body.

Hassan El Salheen, weeps after burying the repatriated body of his son, Aly,
Hassan el-Salheen weeps after the burial of his son Ali, who died along with his three cousins in Libya after Storm Daniel hit the country, at al-Sharif in Bani Suef, Egypt, September 13, 2023 [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Death toll in Libya likely to increase

At least 5,100 deaths have been recorded in Derna, along with about 100 others elsewhere in eastern Libya. More than 7,000 people in the city were injured.

Mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi has said the number of deaths in the city could reach 18,000 to 20,000.

At least 30,000 people in Derna were displaced by the flooding, the UN International Organization for Migration said. An estimated 10,000 people are missing.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies