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Libya: Dwindling hope of finding survivors after Hurricane Daniel

ليبيا .. تضاؤل الأمل في العثور على أحياء بعد إعصار دانيال

Hope of finding survivors in Derna in eastern Libya is diminishing, six days after violent floods swept the city, killing thousands of people.

On Sunday, a strong storm hit eastern Libya, and heavy rains in huge quantities caused the collapse of two dams in Derna, causing water to flow strongly into a river that is usually dry.

Parts of the city, along with its buildings and infrastructure, were swept away, and water flowed several meters high, destroying the bridges linking the east and west of the city.

An Agence France-Presse photographer said that the torrential waters left behind a scene of devastation and it appeared as if a strong earthquake had struck a large part of the city.

Before the disaster, the city had a population of one hundred thousand.

In light of the difficulty of access, communications, relief operations, and the chaos prevailing in Libya even before the disaster, there are conflicting figures on the number of victims.

Ministers in the eastern government gave inconsistent numbers.

But in their latest toll, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior in the eastern government reported on Wednesday that more than 3,800 people died in the floods.

As for the missing, they number in the thousands, according to several sources, including the International Red Cross.

The International Organization for Migration reported the displacement of more than 38,000 people in eastern Libya, including 30,000 from Derna, while the United Nations said that “at least ten thousand people” are still missing.

"Chaotic situation"

Manuel Carton, medical coordinator of a team from Doctors Without Borders, who arrived in Derna two days ago, described the situation as “chaotic” and preventing the smooth process of counting and identifying victims.

She confirmed, "The majority of the bodies were buried (..) in cemeteries and mass graves," and many of these "were not identified, especially those who were recovered in large numbers from the sea."

"People who find bodies bury them immediately," she explained.

The political situation in Libya also hampers relief operations.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011, and two governments are competing for power. The first is based in Tripoli in the west and is headed by Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba, and is recognized by the United Nations.

Another in the east of the country, which was struck by the storm, is headed by Osama Hammad, and is appointed by the House of Representatives and supported by the strongman in the east, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

US diplomat Stephanie Williams, a former United Nations representative in Libya, called for urgent international intervention.

She wrote on the “X” platform, “The moral duty (..) of protecting (civilians), which was the motivation for the (military) intervention in 2011 (against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime), must guide the international community’s action following the floods that swept eastern Libya and caused the deaths of thousands of Libyans.” Innocent people and foreigners.

It called for the establishment of a “joint national and international mechanism to supervise aid funds,” taking on the “predatory” Libyan political class, which tends to use the “argument of sovereignty” to direct aid operations “according to its interests.”

"Enormous needs"

In a press conference on Friday evening, Field Marshal Haftar’s spokesman, Ahmed Al-Mismari, said in the large city of Benghazi in eastern Libya that “the reconstruction needs are enormous.”

Although the disaster occurred in an area under the control of the Eastern Camp, Al-Dabaiba, who is based in the West, considered this week that what happened was caused by “what was planned in the seventies and which is no longer sufficient today, in addition to temporal neglect and the effects of the years.”

He said during his meeting with ministers and experts, "This is one of the results of disputes, wars, and lost money."

An online petition that collected more than two thousand signatures within 24 hours requested the assistance of the international community and the formation of an “international and independent investigation committee” to clarify the circumstances of the disaster and identify those responsible in order to prosecute them.

Source: Agence France-Presse



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