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Libyan authorities close Derna amid a huge rise in the death toll

السلطات الليبية تغلق درنة وسط ارتفاع هائل لحصيلة الضحايا

On Friday, the Libyan authorities prevented civilians from entering the flood-hit city of Derna so that teams could search among the mud and destroyed buildings for 10,100 people still missing after the known number rose to 11,300 dead.

The disaster, which followed the collapse of two dams due to torrential rains and a massive flood pouring into the Mediterranean city early Monday, highlighted the severity of the storm but also Libya's vulnerability.

Salem Al-Ferjani, Director General of the Ambulance and Emergency Service in eastern Libya, announced on Thursday evening that Derna had been evacuated and only search and rescue teams would be allowed to enter.

The disaster brought rare unity, as government agencies across Libya rushed to help affected areas, with the first aid convoys arriving in Derna on Tuesday evening.

Relief efforts have been slowed by the destruction of many bridges linking the city.

The Minister of Health in eastern Libya, Othman Abdel Jalil, said that burials have so far taken place in mass graves outside Derna and neighboring towns and cities.

Abdul Jalil added that rescue teams are searching the destroyed buildings in the city center and that divers are combing the sea off Derna.

Shortly after the storm hit the city Sunday night, residents said they heard loud explosions as levees outside the city collapsed.

Flood waters poured into Wadi Derna, the valley that runs through the city, destroying buildings and sweeping residents into the sea.

Laurie Heber-Girardet, head of the Risk Knowledge, Monitoring and Capacity Development Branch of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, told The Associated Press on Thursday that due to years of chaos and conflict, “Libyan government institutions are not functioning as they should.”

He added: "The amount of attention that should be paid to disaster management and disaster risk management is not enough."



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