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Flooding in Libya devastates city, with concerns over 10,000 missing

People are stuck on a road as a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Shahhat city, Libya, September 11, 2023. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Ali Al-Saadi.

In Libya, a devastating flood caused by a powerful storm has left at least 10,000 people missing, raising grave concerns about the extent of the tragedy.

The floodwaters, triggered by the storm, breached dams, swept away buildings, and decimated as much as a quarter of the eastern city of Derna.

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Tragically, over 1,000 bodies have already been recovered in Derna alone, with officials fearing that the death toll may rise significantly.

The situation has been compounded by the country’s existing vulnerabilities, stemming from over a decade of conflict.

The catastrophe unfolded as Storm Daniel traversed the Mediterranean and unleashed its destructive force on a nation already grappling with political divisions and a deteriorating infrastructure.

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As a Reuters journalist traveled towards Derna, the aftermath of the disaster became apparent, with overturned vehicles, fallen trees, and inundated, abandoned houses lining the way.

Hichem Abu Chkiouat, the minister of civil aviation and a member of the emergency committee in the eastern administration, described the scene as “very disastrous,” noting that bodies were found everywhere, including in the sea, valleys, and beneath collapsed buildings.

The scale of the tragedy is daunting, with reports suggesting that 25% of Derna has disappeared, including numerous buildings.

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Abu Chkiouat estimated the total death toll across the country could exceed 2,500 as the number of missing individuals continues to rise.

Tamer Ramadan, head of a delegation from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, confirmed that the number of missing people has already reached 10,000.

The floodwaters, fueled by dam failures, have left a trail of devastation, leaving the affected areas in dire need of urgent assistance.

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Libya, marked by political divisions and crumbling public services, faces a monumental humanitarian crisis in the wake of this natural disaster.

International aid efforts have been mobilized to provide support to the affected regions, but the challenges remain immense.

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