Libyan flood survivors weigh water shortages against landmine risk


People whose homes in the eastern Libyan city of Derna were destroyed by flooding a week ago had the choice on Sunday of staying despite the lack of access to clean water or fleeing via regions where the torrents had dislodged landmines.

After two dams above Derna collapsed on September 10 and brought down residential buildings lining a typically dry riverbed as people slept, thousands are thought to have perished. According to the United Nations, several remains have been washed on shore, and over 1,000 have been interred in mass graves.
The sight of quiet destruction was exposed at sunrise on Sunday, with mountains of debris cleaned from the sides of deserted highways and tangled metal, including bits of destroyed cars.

On a deserted street, Hamad Awad was lying on a blanket with a water bottle beside him.

I’m attempting to clean up our region while also trying to find out who is missing,” he stated. We are grateful to God for our patience.

With an estimated population of at least 120,000, many Derna sections were swept away or covered in brown sludge. The city’s mayor has indicated that 20,000 people may have died, and state media reported that at least 891 buildings had been damaged there.

Another local claimed that nobody knew what to do next.

We still don’t have any information, and we are hearing rumors, some of which are trying to reassure us and others which advise us to leave the city or remain here. We don’t have any resources or water,” the resident, who only supplied his first name, Wasfi, claimed.

According to a report by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), authorities in Libya discovered at least 55 children who had been poisoned after drinking tainted water in Derna, where people experiencing homelessness were crammed into relatives’ or friends’ homes or temporary shelters.

According to the report, floodwaters had moved landmines and other unexploded ordnances left over from years of conflict, increasing the risk to the thousands of displaced people already on the move.

According to the OCHA assessment, Storm Daniel surged over the Mediterranean and into Derna and other coastal villages, leaving at least 11,300 people dead and over 10,000 others missing.

The statistic was attributed to the Libyan Red Crescent. However, a representative denied publishing a death toll and directed Reuters to government spokespeople, noting that “figures are changing and the Red Crescent is not responsible for this.”

Dr. Osama Al-Fakhry, a representative of the administration in charge of eastern Libya, stated: “The number of dead so far is 3,252, and those are those who were buried.”

He said 86 people had been rescued from the wreckage, and rescue efforts were still on.

According to Al-Fakhry, office manager for the health minister in the east, “there is no specific number regarding the missing because there are entire families who have died and no one came to report them, in addition to the fact that there is duplicate registration in various hospitals.”

Over 5,000 deaths have been reported by other Libyan officials in the past.

OCHA said that more than 40,000 people had been forced from their homes. Still, it warned that the number was likely far higher because access had been blocked to the worst-affected regions, including Derna, where at least 30,000 people had been uprooted.

While governments and international relief groups have delivered emergency aid and supplies, according to OCHA, much more is still required.

Algerian civil protection workers used a dog to search amid the debris of collapsed multistory buildings for possible survivors.

Volunteers distributed clothing and food in al Badya, a seaside community west of Derna.

One of the project managers, Mohammad Shaheen, stated that “people left their houses with nothing, they didn’t even have their underwear.”

Volunteer Abdulnabi claimed that the squad originated in Ajaylat, located in western Libya, around 800 miles (1,200 km) away and separated from the east by more than a decade of intermittent conflict.

He remarked, “People are banding together to aid those affected.”

Since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011 by a revolt supported by NATO, the nation of 7 million people has been without a powerful central government.

The floods were described as an unprecedented calamity by Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah in Tripoli in the west. Mohammed al-Menfi, the leader of Libya’s Presidential Council, has urged national harmony.