Libya Floods: Flooded City Buries its Dead in Mass Graves

Bodies recovered from devastating floods that devastated parts of the port city of Derna in eastern Libya have been buried in mass graves.

At least 2,300 people died after tsunami-like floodwaters swept through Derna after a dam broke during Hurricane Daniel on Sunday.

A mechanical digger worked at the cemetery where victims were buried together, wrapped in body bags and blankets.

The death toll is expected to rise, with 10,000 people reported missing.

Mohammed Qamati, a volunteer in Derna, said rescue workers were still searching for victims.

“We call on all young Libyans, who have any degree or any medical affiliation, to please come and help us,” he told Reuters news agency. “We are short of nurses, we need help.”

Some aid has begun to arrive, including from Egypt, but rescue efforts have been hampered by the political situation in Libya, as the country is divided between two rival governments.

The US, Germany, Iran, Italy, Qatar and Turkey are among the countries that have said they have sent or are prepared to send aid.

Water engineering experts have told the BBC it is possible that a dam about 12 km (eight miles) from Derna failed first, causing its water to flow down a valley and onto another dam that was closer to the city.

Video footage recorded after dark on Sunday showed a river of floodwaters flowing through Derna, a city of about 100,000 people, with cars floating helplessly in its current.

Daylight revealed ruined neighborhoods, roads covered with mud and debris, littered with overturned vehicles.

There are harrowing stories of people being swept out to sea, while others climbed onto rooftops to survive.

“I was shocked by what I saw, it’s like a tsunami,” Hisham Chakioat of Libya’s eastern government told BBC NewsHour.

Eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljalil, told The Associated Press by phone from Derna: “We were shocked by the amount of destruction… The tragedy is very significant, and beyond the capacity of Derna and the government.”

The cities of Susa, al-Marj and Misrata were also affected by Sunday’s storm.

Libya has been in political chaos since longtime ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in 2011 – leaving the oil-rich nation effectively divided and an interim, internationally recognized government based in the capital Tripoli. is operating, and another is operating in the east.

But despite the division, the government in Tripoli has sent a plane with 14 tons of medical supplies, body bags and more than 80 doctors and paramedics.

Derna, about 250 km east of Benghazi along the coast, is surrounded by the rolling hills of the fertile Jabal Akhdar region.

The powerful general said eastern authorities were currently assessing damage caused by the floods so that roads could be rebuilt and power restored to help rescue efforts.

The city was once where Islamic State group militants established their presence in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi. A few years later they were driven out by the Libyan National Army, a force loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, who is allied with the eastern administration.

Related Articles

Back to top button