The floods from storm Daniel that devastated Libya have become one of the most catastrophic events in the country in years. The city of Derna was hit particularly hard by the floods after two dams broke, due to damaged infrastructure and the intensity of the water.

At least 11,000 people are confirmed dead from Libya floods

Friday, Sept. 15, 2023 — 10:30 a.m.

The Libyan Red Crescent confirmed that 11,300 died from the flooding in eastern Libya, with another 10,100 still missing.

Authorities fear that 20,000 people could be dead from the tragic flooding in Libya. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing to find any possible survivors from flooding that swept entire neighborhoods out to sea.

At least 30,000 people have been displaced from the floods, according to the International Organization for Migration, per CNN.

Getting supplies and aid to the devastated areas has proven difficult, due to damaged roads and bridges, as well as “the current political situation in Libya, with the oil-rich country split between two warring governments,” ABC News reported.

Engineers blame the extensive damage on failures to update infrastructure

Entire neighborhoods were swept away or destroyed in the floods, and many officials claim the damage was preventable, if only the buildings, dams and infrastructure had been updated, according to NBC News.

For the last 10 years, the country experienced conflict between warring governments, which prevented updates to the city’s infrastructure.

“They should have known,” Gandi Mohammed Hammoud, a structural engineer in Derna, told NBC News. “... Nothing has been done since 2008 and after the revolution to strengthen the two dams.”

How bad is the flooding in Derna, Libya?

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 — 9 a.m.

Flooding hit the city of Derna hardest, with water slamming through two dams, causing most of the catastrophic flooding that submerged entire neighborhoods.

Derna Mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi said he believes there could be between 18,000 and 20,000 dead, “based on the number of neighborhoods destroyed,” per The Washington Post.

“The situation is still very bad — there is a mismanagement of the crisis,” Ali Elshanti, a sports broadcaster helping with relief efforts, told The New York Times. “Unfortunately in Libya we suffer from a lack of crisis management. There is none. The operation on the ground is not organized.”

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Those impacts are devastating for many families — one man lost 13 family members from his extended family, The Associated Press reported.

“No one expected this,” Fadelallah told AP, asking not to use his last name. “Some of them didn’t have cars. They didn’t have a way to get out.” 

Thousands of others just like him are frantically searching to find information about missing family members and friends.

Flooding aftermath is seen in Derna, Libya, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. Search teams are combing streets, wrecked buildings, and even the sea to look for bodies in Derna, where the collapse of two dams unleashed a massive flash flood that killed thousands of people. | Yousef Murad, Associated Press

What do we know about Libya’s government?

Libya is currently run by two separate governments, and the country has been plagued by conflict between the rival powers for the last 10 years. The lack of unified government has intensified some of the issues that caused the weakened dam and building infrastructures that further impacted the effects of downpour from storm Daniel.

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