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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Devastating floods claim hundreds and possibly thousands in eastern Libya

More than 2,000 people are feared dead in Derna a city in eastern Libya, hit by a powerful storm and accompanied by torrents of flood waters.

That is according to he prime minister of the eastern based government, Osama Hamad. He added on Monday that thousands others are still missing.

In a phone interview with al-Masar television station Monday, Prime Minister Osama Hamad of the east Libyan government said that 2,000 were feared dead in the eastern city of Derna, and thousands of others are reported missing. He said the floods have swept away entire neighbourhoods in Derna, which has been declared a disaster zone.

Footage on social media showed people stranded on roof-tops of their vehicles as Storm Daniel hit the cities of Benghazi, Sousse, Al Bayda, Al-Marj and Derna, cities on the Mediterranean some 250km (150 miles) east of Benghazi.

Devastating floods claim hundreds and possibly thousands in eastern Libya“We were asleep, and when we woke up, we found water besieging the house. We are inside and trying to get out,” Derna resident Ahmed Mohamed told Reuters by phone on Monday.

The missing include seven members of the Libyan National Army (LNA), its spokesman, Ahmad Mismari, said. The LNA is led by Khalifa Haftar which controls the eastern part of the divided country.

Heavy floods washed away vehicles, footage broadcast by eastern Libya’s Almostkbal TV showed. The channel also posted pictures of a collapsed road between Sousse and Shahat, home to the Greek-founded and UNESCO-listed archaeological site Cyrene. Witnesses said the water level had reached three metres (10 feet) in Derna.

Libya’s eastern-based parliament declared three days of mourning. Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, prime minister of the interim government in Tripoli, also declared three days of mourning in all the affected cities, calling them “disaster areas”.

Oil ports

Four major oil ports in Libya, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, Brega and Es Sidra, were closed from Saturday evening for three days, two oil engineers told Reuters.

Search-and-rescue operations were ongoing, witnesses said.

Authorities declared a state of extreme emergency, closing schools and stores and imposing a curfew.

His administration holds little sway in eastern Libya, but Dbeibah said on Sunday he had directed all state agencies to “immediately deal” with the damage and floods in eastern cities.

Dbeibah’s government is recognised by the Central Bank of Libya, which disburses funds to government departments across the country.

The United Nations in Libya said it was following the storm closely and would “provide urgent relief assistance in support of response efforts at local and national levels”.

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