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UN warns Libya could face ‘devastating second crisis’ if disease spreads to decimated Derna

Derna, Libya — The United Nations warned Monday that outbreaks could cause “a second devastating crisis” in Libya, a week after a massive crisis. Flash flood destroys coastal town of Derna, leading thousands of people to their death. Local officials, humanitarian agencies and the World Health Organization “are concerned about the risk of an outbreak, particularly due to contaminated water and lack of sanitation,” the United Nations said.

The flash flood, which is believed to have killed nearly 3,300 people and left thousands missing, came after the war-scarred North African country was hit by the force of Storm Daniel. hurricane, September 10.

Tens of thousands of traumatized residents are homeless and in dire need of clean water, food and basic necessities, amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition, authorities have warned. United Nations agencies.

A man walks past the rubble of a destroyed building in the eastern Libyan town of Derna September 18, 2023, following deadly flash floods.


Libya’s Center for Disease Control has banned citizens in the disaster zone from drinking local water, warning that it is “polluted.”

“There is no more life.”

Rescue teams from several European and Arab countries continued their fierce search for bodies in a mud-covered desert filled with destroyed buildings, crushed cars and uprooted trees.

Waters submerged a densely populated 2.3 square mile area in Derna, damaging 1,500 buildings, 891 of which were completely razed, according to a preliminary report released by the Tripoli government based on satellite images.

A grieving resident of Derna, Abdul Wahab al-Masouri, lamented what his town had become.

“We grew up here, we grew up here… But we came to hate this place, we came to hate what it became,” he said. “The buildings, the neighborhood, the villagers, the sheikhs… the wadi has returned to the state it was in 1,000 years ago. People live in caves, the city looks dead, barren , there is no more life.”

Rescue teams walk through a destroyed area in the eastern Libyan town of Derna on September 18, 2023, following deadly flash floods.


Bulldozers cleared roads of encrusted mud, including at a mosque as a foul odor permeated the air and a woman prayed for children and grandchildren killed by the floods.

Death toll remains uncertain in post-flood chaos

Amid the chaos, the true death toll remained unknown, with countless numbers of people washed out to sea. Soldier Hamza al-Khafifi, 45, described to AFP finding naked bodies washing up on the coastline, where “the bodies were stuck between rocks”.

Health Minister of the divided country’s Eastern Administration, Othman Abdeljalil, said 3,283 people had been confirmed dead in Derna. Libyan officials and humanitarian groups have warned, however, that the final toll could be much higher, with several thousand people still missing.

The Libyan Red Crescent has said some 11,000 people were killedand another 10,000 people are still missing and presumed dead.

Libya’s death toll expected to continue rising after devastating floods


Emergency response teams and aid have been deployed from countries including Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Five members of a Greek rescue team were killed Sunday when their vehicle collided with a car carrying a Libyan family on the Benghazi-Derna road, officials said. Three family members also died.

Egypt has sent the Mistral helicopter carrier “Gamal Abdel Nasser” to the Tobruk military base, east of the border, to serve as a field hospital with more than 100 beds, Egyptian media reported.

France said it had set up a field hospital in Derna.

On Monday, the United Nations, which launched an emergency appeal for more than $71 million, said nine of its agencies were providing aid and support to survivors and working to prevent the spread of disease.

The European Union announced on Monday that it was releasing 5.2 million euros (about $5.5 million) in humanitarian funding for Libya, bringing the EU’s total aid so far to more than 5.7 million euros.

Responding to disaster in a divided Libya

Faced with tragedy, rival Libyan administrations appear to have put aside their differences for now after calls from humanitarian groups and several countries to collaborate on the aid effort.

Libya has been divided between two rival governments – a UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli and another in the country’s disaster-hit east – since the overthrow and assassination of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in an uprising supported by NATO in 2011.

The head of the International Organization for Migration in Libya, Tauhid Pasha, said on X, formerly Twitter, that the goal now was to get all authorities “working together, in coordination.”

On Monday, the Tripoli-based government announced it had started work to build a temporary bridge that would span the river that runs through Derna.

The massive flooding caused two river dams upstream in Derna to break, sending a tidal wave crashing through the center of the town of 100,000 and sweeping entire city blocks into the Mediterranean.

UN experts have blamed the high death toll on climatic factors, as the Mediterranean region was sweltered by an unusually hot summer, and the legacy of the war in Libya which depleted its infrastructure, warning systems early and its emergency responses.


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