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Deadly Flooding Ravages Libya as Thousands Feared Lost

Libya is reeling from a catastrophic flood disaster that followed a powerful storm, with thousands of lives feared lost.

The leader of the government in eastern Libya, which lacks international recognition, has reported a death toll exceeding 2,000, and thousands remain missing.

Libya specialist Jalel Harchaoui suggested to the BBC that the actual death toll could climb even higher, possibly reaching several thousand lives.

The devastating storm named Daniel struck on Sunday, prompting authorities to declare a state of extreme emergency in response.

Seven Libyan army personnel have gone missing during ongoing rescue operations, adding to the mounting crisis.

In the eastern part of the country, a curfew was imposed, and schools and shops were ordered to shut down. Cities such as Benghazi, Sousse, Derna, and Al-Marj were severely affected.

In addition to the rising death toll, the Libyan Red Cross reported that at least 150 homes had been destroyed in the disaster.

The head of the Red Crescent humanitarian network revealed that Derna alone had witnessed at least 150 deaths, as per Reuters.

Reports indicated that two dams in Derna, home to around 100,000 residents, collapsed, leading to widespread flooding and the tragic drowning of some residents. The authorities consequently designated the port as a “disaster city.”

Prime Minister Osama Hamad from the eastern administration stated in an interview with a Libyan television channel that the number of missing individuals was in the thousands, and the death toll had surpassed 2,000. He also noted entire neighborhoods in Derna had been submerged, along with their inhabitants, swept away by the deluge. However, he did not specify the source of these figures.

The western city of Misrata was also among the regions affected by the floods.

Unverified videos circulated online, depicting the storm’s devastating impact. One video showed torrents of floodwater sweeping away an individual, while another showed people trapped on the roofs of their cars.

Additionally, four major oil ports were forced to close due to the storm.

While the Benghazi-based administration managed matters in the east, the internationally recognized government based in the capital, Tripoli, was also actively involved in disaster response.

Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeiba of Tripoli directed all state agencies to swiftly address the damage and flooding, while the United Nations in Libya expressed its close monitoring of the situation and pledged to offer urgent relief assistance to support local and national response efforts.

Libya has remained divided between two rival administrations since 2014, following the demise of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Both governments declared three days of mourning following the devastation wrought by Storm Daniel.

Last week, the storm unleashed its fury on Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, claiming more than a dozen lives. Egypt was also bracing itself for the storm’s impact, with reports of increased rainclouds over the northwestern coast.

Climate scientists have sounded warnings that global warming leads to increased evaporation during the summer, resulting in more intense storms, further highlighting the need for climate action.