Thousands feared dead after storm in eastern Libya
An estimated 2,000 people are feared dead after the powerful Mediterranean storm Daniel caused severe flooding in the eastern Libyan port city of Derna over the weekend, an official of the North African country said on Monday.
The prime minister of Libya’s eastern government in Benghazi, Osama Hamad, told Al Masar TV that the floods had swept away entire neighborhoods in Derna, leaving thousands of residents missing.
Seven servicemen of the Libyan National Army are among those presumed missing, army spokesperson Ahmad Mismari has said.
Earlier on Monday, Othman Abduljaleel, the health minister of the east Libyan government, announced a death toll of 27, noting that this figure did not include the casualties from Derna.
A spokesperson for the Benghazi-based administration, Mohamed Massoud, also told AFP that at least 150 people had died in the disaster.
“At least 150 people were killed as a result of flooding and torrential rains left by the storm in Derna, the Jabal al-Akhdar region, and the suburbs of Al-Marj,” Massoud is quoted as saying.
The leader of the Red Crescent in Benghazi, Kais Fhakeri, has confirmed that at least 150 deaths were recorded due to building collapses, adding that the death toll is expected to rise.
“The situation is very catastrophic,” Fhakeri told Reuters on Monday.
The Libyan disaster occurred just days after Daniel battered Greece, Türkiye, and Bulgaria, killing at least 14 people. At least three lives were lost in Greece, seven in Türkiye, and at least four on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
Libyan authorities have declared an emergency along with three days of mourning and imposed a curfew in affected areas, including Benghazi, Sousse, Al Bayda, and Al-Marj. Schools and businesses have been ordered to close.
Similarly, Tripoli’s interim prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, has declared three days of mourning in honor of the victims, designating the affected cities as “disaster areas.”
The North African country has been split into two competing administrations since 2014, a division that occurred after the assassination of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.