Eastern Libya has recently suffered severe flooding following the onslaught of storm Daniel along its Mediterranean coast. The current toll, as of Tuesday afternoon, stands at a tragic 5,200 lives lost and 8,000 people injured or missing. The majority of these casualties are concentrated in the port city of Derna, which has been the epicenter of this natural disaster. Apocalyptic scenes of extensive damage have emerged from Derna, raising questions about why this city was hit so hard.
Derna, with a population of 90,000, is divided by the Wadi Derna, a seasonal river flowing from the southern highlands. Normally, the city is shielded from flooding by dams. However, on a fateful Sunday night, disaster struck as two dams gave way, releasing torrents of water that swept through residential neighborhoods on both sides of the river.
This catastrophe wasn’t limited to Derna alone. Other areas, such as the town of Bayda, reported around 50 fatalities. Additionally, towns like Shahatt and Marj suffered significant damage, as shown by striking images taken before and after the floods. Susa, situated roughly 47 miles west of Derna, also faced the wrath of the storm, with footage depicting cars stacked on top of each other.
One of the most alarming aspects of this disaster is Libya’s ability, or lack thereof, to cope with such devastation. The dam collapses on the Wadi Derna have shed light on the frailty of Libya’s infrastructure, a consequence of over a decade of political chaos. The nation, rich in oil resources, remains divided between two rival administrations, each supported by different militias and foreign governments. This division has hindered efforts to establish robust disaster preparedness and response mechanisms.
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Storm Daniel has not spared other countries in its path either. Last week, it claimed at least 27 lives as it struck parts of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey before heading south. In Greece, harrowing footage captured cars being swept into the sea and roads being engulfed by sinkholes. Days of incessant rainfall triggered landslides and widespread destruction in the central regions of these affected countries.
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