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Libya’s catastrophic floods

Libya’s catastrophic floods


Derna following the devastation. Photo credit: X, formerly Twitter.

By Anders Lorenzen

The North African country of Libya is counting the cost after they experienced a catastrophic and devastating flood which have so far killed thousands of people, with many people having been swept out to sea.

On Sunday night the Mediterranean city of Dernan were obliterated by a torrent of water which was unleashed by the powerful storm Daniel which ravaged what was usually a dry riverbed. It bursted dams above the city causing multi-storey building with families inside sleeping to collapse, streets were covered in deep mud and strewn with uprooted tree, cars wrecked.

Death tools is believed to have crossed the 10,000 mark with many thousands more missing.

Areal images show the brutal force of devastation. Derna is a densely populated city centre, built along a seasonal riverbed, had now been transformed to a wide, flat crescent of earth with stretches of muddy water gleaming in the sun.

The death tool is most certainly likely to go up, with Derna Mayor Abdulmenam fearing the number of deaths in the city could reach 18,000 to 20,000.
Rescue teams from Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Qatar, al-Ghaithi have arrived in the area to assist with the rescue efforts.

Conflict issues

Rescue operations are complicated by deep political fractures in the country of 7 million people that has lacked a strong central government and been at war on-and-off since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. An internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNU) is based in Tripoli, in the west, while a parallel administration operates in the east, including Derna. Libya’s Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah called the floods an unprecedented catastrophe. Libya’s Presidential Council head Mohammed al-Menfi has called for national unity.

Climate impacts

It is tricky to attribute one single weather event to climate change, but the unprecedented record rainfall that landed in the area in a short space does in itself and the fact that the storm could have been caused by the fact that the Mediterranean sea is 2-3 degrees C warmer than normally at this time of year bear all the hallmarks of climate change and

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