May 25, 2024
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By Hamdi Alkhshali

Heavy rains caused the collapse of two dams, causing more flooding in already flooded areas.

Tamer Ramadan gave the number of people missing during an update to journalists in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday. She said that the death toll was high.

The interior ministry for the eastern government of Libya reported to state media LANA on Tuesday that at least 5,300 persons are believed dead. CNN is unable to verify independently the death or missing numbers.

Officials in Tobruk in Libya’s northeast have confirmed that at least 145 of those killed were Egyptians.

Othman Abdjalil told Libyan Almasar TV that 6,000 people are still missing in the city of Derna. This is the area of eastern Libya where the most devastation has occurred. When he visited the city Monday, he called the current situation “catastrophic.”

Authorities believe that whole neighborhoods have washed out in the city.

Osama Al-y, a spokesperson for the Emergency and Ambulance Service, stated that there are currently no operating hospitals in Derna and all morgues have been filled.

CNN reported that dead bodies were left on sidewalks outside morgues.

There are no emergency services on the ground. “People are currently working to collect the dead bodies,” Anas Barghathy said, a volunteer doctor in Derna.

We are all scared

CNN reported that relatives of those who had lived in Derna, the city destroyed by the floods, were terrified when they saw the videos and heard nothing from them.

Ayah, A Palestinian woman who has cousins living in Derna said that she had not been able to contact them after the flooding.

I’m worried for them. My two cousins live in Derna. All communications seem to be down, and at this time I’m not sure if the cousins are still alive. The videos that are coming from Derna make me very scared. “We are all terrified,” said she.

Emad Milad of Tobrok said that eight of his family members died during the floods in Derna.

Both my wife Areej’s sister and her spouse have died. The entire family of his is dead. Eight people have died. This is a catastrophe. It’s an absolute disaster. “We are praying for better times,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Weather conditions that are ‘ferocious

Rain has been sweeping across cities in the north-east of Libya. This is due to a low-pressure area that caused catastrophic flooding last week in Greece. It then moved over the Mediterranean and developed into a tropical cyclone called a medicane.

This deadly storm is part of a year that has seen unprecedented climate disasters. Extreme weather conditions have also been recorded, ranging from wildfires to scorching heat.

Scientists say that the Mediterranean’s temperature is above average. This, they claim, was the cause of the heavy rain.

The Science Media Center reported that “the warmer water not only intensifies the storms’ rainfall, but also increases their ferocity,” Karsten Housetein, a climate scientist and a meteorologist from Leipzig University, Germany.

Libya is more vulnerable to severe weather because of its political turmoil, which has lasted for a decade.

In Tripoli, the UN-backed Government of National Unity, led by Abdulhamid Dbeibeh is located in northwestern Libya. Its eastern rival, controlled by Khalifa haftar, and his Libyan National Army, supports Osama bin Hamad’s eastern parliament.

Haftar’s eastern administration controls Derna which is located about 300 km (190 miles east) of Benghazi.

Leslie Mabon of The Open University’s Environmental Systems Department told Science Media Center that the complex political system in this country “poses challenges to developing strategies for risk communication, hazard assessments, coordination rescue operations and maintenance of critical infrastructure like dams.”

Dams collapse

Authorities said that the collapse of two dams has resulted in catastrophic damages. Water rushed towards Derna after they fell.

Three bridges have been destroyed. “The flowing water washed away entire neighbourhoods, and eventually deposited them in the sea,” Ahmed Mismari said, spokesperson for LNA.

Aly, spokesperson for the Emergency and Ambulance Authority, stated that homes in valleys had been washed out by muddy currents that carried vehicles and debris.

Aly, a CNN reporter, said that the phone lines are not working in Derna, which complicates rescue efforts. Workers cannot enter the area due to heavy damage, Aly explained.

Aly stated that authorities did not anticipate the magnitude of the catastrophe.

He said that the weather conditions had not been studied properly, and the rainfall and seawater levels [had not been studied], as well as the winds speeds. Families in valleys and along the storm’s path were not evacuated.

“Libya wasn’t prepared for such a disaster.” This level of disaster has never been experienced before. Aly, a reporter for Al Hurra told the channel that “we are admitting shortcomings despite this being our first experience with such a level of disaster”.

‘Unprecedented flooding’

This storm is likely to be the deadliest in North Africa’s history.

According to the Libyan News Agency, Hamad is the head of eastern administration.

Mismari, the LNA’s spokesperson, stated that the flooding has affected several cities including Al-Bayda and Al-Marj in Tobruk as well as Takenis Al-Bayada Battah as well as along the east coast to Benghazi. The waters have sucked in at least 37 houses.

Mismari stated that “we are not ready for this scale of destruction.”

He added that Libyan authorities require three different types of search teams, including those to find bodies in rugged valleys where torrents have dispersed the bodies, as well as teams for finding bodies under rubble and from the sea.

According to Mismari, despite the deployment of tens of thousands military personnel, many flood-stricken areas are inaccessible for emergency workers.

As rescuers scrambled to locate survivors beneath the rubble and debris, several countries and groups dedicated to human rights offered assistance.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said that the country is facing “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”

Ciaran Doney, IRC’s senior vice-president for crisis response said that the challenges facing Libya were “immense, with telephone lines down and heavy damage hampering rescue operations.” Climate change, he added, has exacerbated the steadily deteriorating situation after years of war and instability in the country.

According to the Emergency Management Authority of Turkey (AFAD), on Tuesday, Turkish aircraft delivering humanitarian aid has arrived in Libya.

According to the state-run news agency Anadoulu Agency, on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep T. Tayyip Erdoan said that his country will send 168 teams of search and rescue and humanitarian assistance to Benghazi.

The Civil Protection Department of Italy announced Tuesday that it will send a team to help with the rescue operation.

Ambassador Richard Norland of the US Embassy, Tripoli in Libya, made an official statement stating that there was a humanitarian crisis.

The United States’ initial financial support for relief efforts in Libya will be authorized by this document. It posted that it was “coordinating with UN Partners and Libyan Authorities to determine how to best target official US Assistance” on X, formerly known as Twitter.

State news reported that Zayed Al Nahyan President of the United Arab Emirates has ordered to send search and rescue and aid teams, while also offering condolences for those who have been affected by this catastrophe.

Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has sent a delegation of military personnel, headed by Osama Akar, chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, to Libya, where they arrived on Tuesday, in order to coordinate logistical and humanitarian assistance.

According to the World Meteorological Organization and Libya’s National Meteorological Centre, on Monday morning, the storm peaked in northern Libya.

Libyan storms follow deadly floods in other parts of world, including Southern Europe and Hong Kong.

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