Libya is searching for those responsible for the collapse of two dams near the city of Derna, where floods killed thousands. The top prosecutor opens a judicial investigation into the disaster. The money intended for maintenance of the buildings may have been used for other purposes.
The dams were built in the 1970s. A report in 2021 noted that they had not been maintained, despite more than $2 million being earmarked for them in 2012 and 2013.
The public prosecutor’s investigation not only includes the current rulers in Derna, but also examines the role of their predecessors. A local TV station reports that the mayor of Derna has been suspended while the investigation into the disaster continues.
Last weekend’s flooding was the result of Storm Daniel. The heavy rainfall destroyed the two dams, causing a meter-high wall of water to wash through the center of Derna. Other areas in eastern Libya were also hit by the storm, including the towns of Bayda and Soussa.
No clarity on death toll
There have been conflicting reports about the death toll for days. The World Health Organization (WHO) now says that around 4,000 deaths have been identified in Libya and more than 9,000 people are missing. At least 35,000 people have also lost their homes, according to the organization.
The Red Crescent, as the Red Cross in Libya is called, previously spoke of 11,000 dead and 20,000 missing, but those numbers were later contradicted by the International Red Cross. The government in the east of the country yesterday reported 3,166 deaths.
The information from the country is difficult to verify, not least because of the complicated political situation. Since the fall of dictator Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been torn into two political power blocs, east and west, each supported by militias and other countries.
Diarrhea due to contaminated drinking water
“The situation in Derna is beyond anything we imagined,” the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Libya said on social medium X. Aseer Madaien described the “overwhelming stench of bodies” and the “risk of disease outbreaks.”
In the port city of Derna, around 150 cases of diarrhea were reported in the aftermath of the floods, probably because people drank contaminated drinking water. The head of the national health institute has called on people on television to drink only bottled water. Because diseases sometimes persist for months after a disaster, a state of emergency will be in effect in Derna for at least a year.
A Libyan camera crew visited a hospital in Derna for Nieuwsuur:
In Benghazi, about 350 kilometers from Derna, 29 tons of medical supplies from the World Health Organization arrived today. They flew there from Dubai. According to the WHO, this supply could provide nearly 250,000 people with medical care. A similar amount of relief supplies had previously been brought to the disaster area.
The medical supplies go to clinics in the region, among others. According to the Red Cross, Derna can only be reached via one access road, because the other roads are impassable due to the floods.
In the region, tens of thousands of displaced people have taken refuge in schools and other government buildings. Among the dead are many dozens of foreigners, reports AP news agency. This includes 74 men from the same village in Egypt and dozens of people from Syria, where a civil war has been raging for years.
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