The destruction from storm Daniel appeared greatest in Derna, a city formerly held by Islamic extremists in the chaos that has gripped Libya for more than a decade and left it with crumbling and inadequate infrastructure.
The head of delegation for Libya for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says that 10,000 people are missing after devastating flooding in the North African country, warning that the death toll could reach thousands.
Tamer Ramadan, speaking to reporters at a United Nations briefing in Geneva via videoconference from Tunisia on Tuesday, said the death toll was “huge” and expected to reach into the thousands in the coming days as assessments of the damage are carried out.
Authorities in Libya have estimated that the Mediterranean storm Daniel that triggered flash flooding may have killed as many as 2,000 people in the eastern city of Derna alone.
The destruction appeared greatest in Derna, a city formerly held by Islamic extremists in the chaos that has gripped Libya for more than a decade and left it with crumbling and inadequate infrastructure. Libya remains divided between two rival administrations, one in the east and one in the west, each backed by militias and foreign governments.
The confirmed death toll from the weekend flooding stood at 61 as of late Monday, according to health authorities. But the tally did not include Derna, which had become inaccessible, and many of the thousands missing were believed carried away by waters.
Video by residents of the city posted online showed major devastation. Entire residential areas were erased along a river that runs down from the mountains through the city centre. Multi-story apartment buildings that once stood well back from the river were partially collapsed into the mud.