2000 dead, 10000 missing: Why is the Libyan flood so devastating?

by The Technical Blogs


The Mediterranean storm Daniel has wreaked havoc in Libya, causing catastrophic floods that have claimed the lives of over 2,300 people and left more than 10,000 missing.

The eastern city of Derna has been hit hardest, with officials stating that as much as a quarter of the city has been wiped out.


The storm, which originated in the Mediterranean, unleashed its fury on a country already crumbling under the weight of a decade-long conflict.

General view of flood water covering the area as a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Al-Mukhaili. (Photo: Reuters)

Derna, bisected by a seasonal river flowing from the southern highlands, was particularly vulnerable due to the collapse of dams that normally protected it from flooding.

A video circulating on social media shows the remnants of a collapsed dam upstream of the city, surrounded by vast pools of muddy water.

The floods have swept away buildings, burst dams, and caused unprecedented destruction across several cities in eastern Libya, including Al-Bayda, Al-Marj, Tobruk, Takenis, Al-Bayada, Battah, and extending to the eastern coast up to Benghazi.

Homes located in valleys were obliterated by powerful muddy currents carrying vehicles and debris, according to Osama Aly, head of Libya’s Emergency and Ambulance authority.

A satellite view of a dam in south of Derna, Libya, September 7, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)


The catastrophic floods are the result of a potent low-pressure system that previously caused severe flooding in Greece before moving into the Mediterranean and developing into a tropical-like cyclone known as a medicane.

Libya has been grappling with lawlessness and dwindling investment in public services and infrastructure since the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias. Derna, along with the city of Sirte, was under the control of extremist groups for years, including those who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, until forces loyal to the east-based government expelled them in 2018.

Aerial view of people standing in a damaged road as a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Shahhat city. (Photo: Reuters)

The situation in Libya is “unprecedented,” said Hamad, the head of the eastern administration, in a report from the state news organization Libyan News Agency (LANA).

Despite the political divide between the East and the west, the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, which does not control the eastern areas, has dispatched aid to Derna.

A relief flight from the western city of Misrata was reported to have left for Derna on Tuesday.

A car sits partly suspended in trees after being carried by floodwaters in Derna, Libya. (Photo: AP)

As Libya grapples with this unprecedented disaster, the international community is stepping up relief and aid efforts to support the war-ravaged country.

Edited By:

Sibu Kumar Tripathi

Published On:

Sep 12, 2023


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