Libya buries flood victims of Derna in a mass gravetext_fields
Tripoli: After a catastrophic flood swept through the port city of Derna in eastern Libya, bodies recovered from the disaster have been laid to rest in mass graves.
The flood, triggered by a dam burst during Storm Daniel, claimed the lives of at least 2,300 people.
Mechanical diggers were deployed to a cemetery where victims, wrapped in body bags and blankets, were buried collectively. With around 10,000 people reported missing, the death toll is anticipated to rise, reported BBC.
Rescue efforts have faced significant challenges due to the political instability in Libya, where two rival governments govern different regions of the country.
"We were stunned by the amount of destruction... The tragedy is very significant, and beyond the capacity of Derna and the government," said the health minister Othman Abdujaleel.
Despite these obstacles, several countries, including the US, Germany, Iran, Italy, Qatar, and Turkey, have either sent aid or expressed readiness to provide assistance.
Experts in water engineering have indicated that the failure of a dam approximately 12 km from Derna was likely the initial trigger, causing a deluge that overwhelmed a second dam closer to the city.
Video footage recorded during the nighttime hours of Sunday captured a torrent of floodwater coursing through Derna, submerging vehicles and engulfing neighborhoods. Daylight exposed widespread devastation, with streets covered in mud, debris, and overturned vehicles.
Survivors shared harrowing accounts of people being swept out to sea, while others clung to rooftops for their lives.
Libya has been mired in political turmoil since the fall and killing of longtime leader Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The nation is effectively divided between an interim government recognised internationally and based in the capital, Tripoli, and another administration in the east.
Despite this division, the government in Tripoli dispatched a plane carrying 14 tonnes of medical supplies, body bags, and over 80 doctors and paramedics to aid the affected areas.
Derna, located about 250 km east of Benghazi along the coast, is surrounded by the hills of the fertile Jabal Akhdar region. The city was previously a stronghold for militants associated with the Islamic State group after Gaddafi's ousting. These militants were eventually driven out by the Libyan National Army, aligned with Gen Khalifa Haftar and the eastern administration.
Gen Haftar stated that officials from the east are currently assessing flood damage, with the aim of rebuilding roads and restoring electricity to facilitate rescue operations.