Tragic Libya Flood Claims 11,300 Lives, Four Greek Rescuers Among Casualties


The aftermath of the catastrophic flooding in Libya’s eastern city of Derna due to the devastating Mediterranean storm Daniel resulted in the tragic loss of four Greek rescue workers on Sunday. The calamity led to two dam failures which combined, led to approximately 11,300 fatalities and further 10,000 individuals still unaccounted for, presumed dead, as reported by the Red Crescent aid group. International rescue teams from nations such as Greece, Turkey, and Egypt acted promptly, rushing in to support the battered port city.

A grim incident added to the misery on Sunday when a bus transporting 19 Greek rescuers crashed into an approaching vehicle carrying five Libyan nationals on the highway between Benghazi and Derna. As disclosed by Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel, during a media briefing, three Libyans from the oncoming vehicle also met a fatal end. The dreadful scenario left seven of the rescued Greek workers fighting for their lives in critical condition.

Contrarily, the Greek Foreign Ministry, acknowledging the accident, stated that all its nationals involved had “only sustained minor injuries” and were undergoing treatment at neighboring hospitals. The conflicting reports remained unverified at the close of the day.

The crisis incidentally brought a sense of camaraderie among the residents of oil-abundant Libya, a nation otherwise divided between east and west rivalries. Citizens from the neighboring cities of Benghazi and Tobruk volunteered shelter for the dislodged, participated in the quest for survivors buried under the debris. Yet, opposing governments found it challenging to respond constructively to the crisis. Logistical confusion, difficulties in extending help to severely impacted locations, and the annihilation of Derna’s infrastructure, including several of its bridges, obstructed recovery gears.

Abduljaleel informed that as of Sunday, over 3,283 corpses were interred in mass graves outside Derna or transported to nearby regions. The tragic incident moved Libya’s General Prosecutor, al-Sediq al-Sour, to inaugurate an investigation on Saturday into factors contributing to the disaster, including an inquiry into the dam failures built in the 1970s and the channeling of maintenance funds. The mayor of Derna, Abdel-Moneim al-Gaithi, currently faces suspension as these investigations are underway.

Furthermore, fearing an outbreak of waterborne diseases and displacement of explosive ordnance from recent Libyan clashes, authorities and aid entities expressed mounting concerns. The head of Libya’s center for disease control, Haider al-Saeih, revealed in a televised address on Saturday that at least 150 residents contracted diarrhea after consuming contaminated water in Derna. To counter such potential outbreaks in the wake of a disaster of this magnitude, Abduljaleel attested to initiating a robust vaccination initiative against such diseases.


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