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Libya authorities say over 2000 confirmed dead in massive flooding 

Authorities in eastern Libya reported a devastating flood in the city of Derna, resulting in the loss of at least 2,000 lives, with thousands more individuals unaccounted for, following heavy storms and rainfall according to reports from Reuters.  

Ahmed Mismari, the spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls eastern Libya, conveyed during a televised news conference that the catastrophe was triggered by the collapse of dams above Derna, an event he described as ‘’sweeping whole neighbourhoods with their residents into the sea.’’ 

Mismari estimated the number of missing persons to be between 5,000 and 6,000. 

Earlier on Monday, the head of the Red Crescent aid group in the region had reported a death toll of 150, which was expected to rise to 250. Reuters was unable to immediately verify either figure. 

  • Osama Hamad reported to al-Masar TV, “The missing number in the thousands, with more than 2,000 confirmed dead. Entire neighbourhoods in Derna have been wiped out, along with their residents, who were swept away by the water.” 

Mismari stated that seven members of the LNA had lost their lives due to the flood. 

Eyewitnesses indicated that the water level had reached three meters (10 feet). 

To the west of Derna, visuals displayed a collapsed road between the port town of Sousse and Shahat, which is home to the Greek-founded and UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Cyrene. 

Cause of the flood 

Following its impact on Greece last week, Storm Daniel moved over the Mediterranean on Sunday, causing flooding in Derna, as well as affecting other coastal settlements, including Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city. 

Also, Storm Daniel dumped so much rain on Libya’s northeast that two dams collapsed sending water flowing into already flooded areas. 

Local and international response  

Libya’s eastern-based parliament declared three days of mourning, while Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, prime minister of the interim government in Tripoli, declared three days of mourning for all affected cities, referring to them as ‘disaster areas.’ 

Four major oil ports in Libya, including Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, Brega, and Es Sidra, were closed for three days from Saturday evening, according to information from two oil engineers interviewed by Reuters. 

Witnesses reported ongoing search-and-rescue operations, and authorities declared a state of extreme emergency, leading to school and store closures and the imposition of a curfew. 

In Tripoli, the interim government directed all state agencies to ‘immediately address’ the damage and flooding in eastern cities, although the administration holds no sway in the east. 

However, Dbeibah’s government maintains close ties with the Central Bank of Libya, which disburses funds to government departments across the country. 

The United Nations in Libya affirmed its close monitoring of the storm’s developments and expressed its commitment to ‘’provide urgent relief assistance in support of response efforts at local and national levels.’’ 

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani instructed the government to send aid to the affected area in eastern Libya, as reported by Qatar’s state news agency. 

This is the second fatal natural disaster to affect an African country after the massive earthquake hit Morocco last Friday resulting in the death of about 2800 with thousands missing.  


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