The city of Derna has been the worst affected by the floods, which have already killed more than 2,000 people

Catastrophic situation in Libya following the passage of storm 'Daniel'

AFP/HO/OFICINA DE MEDIOS DEL PRIMER MINISTRO DE LIBIA (BENGASI) - Vehículos destruidos y edificios dañados en la ciudad oriental de Bengasi a raíz de la tormenta mediterránea Daniel
AFP/HO/ LIBYAN PRIME MINISTER'S MEDIA OFFICE (BENGASI) - Vehicles destroyed and buildings damaged in the eastern city of Benghazi in the aftermath of Mediterranean Storm Daniel

Once again, a natural disaster has struck North Africa. A few days after the devastating earthquake in Morocco, the Maghreb has once again been shaken by the force of nature. This time it has hit Libya, where more than 2,000 people have been killed by floods caused by storm 'Daniel, according to Ossama Hamad, Prime Minister of the eastern Libyan government. Hamad described the situation as "catastrophic and unprecedented", according to Libya's state news agency.

The epicentre of the tragedy is in Derna, a coastal city in the east of the country, where two dams have collapsed, submerging much of the town, destroying three bridges and flooding entire neighbourhoods.  

REUTERS/ALI AL-SAADI - People stranded on a road as a powerful storm and heavy rains hit the city of Shahhat, Libya.

In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, between 5,000 and 6,000 people are estimated to be missing, according to local authorities in the east of the country. However, due to the political division in the country as a result of the wars following the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, it is difficult to officially confirm the figures.  

"There are corpses everywhere: in the sea, in the valleys, under buildings," Libya's Civil Aviation Minister and member of the emergency committee, Hichem Chkiouat, told Reuters after his return from Derna. Chkiouat also said the final dimensions of the natural disaster are expected to be "very, very big". "I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city is gone," he added.  

Esta fotografía proporcionada por la oficina del primer ministro interino de Libia con sede en Bengasi el 11 de septiembre de 2023 muestra una vista de un vehículo destruido por edificios dañados en la ciudad oriental de Derna, a unos 290 kilómetros al este 

AFP/Oficina de Prensa del Primer Ministro de Libia
AFP/Libya's Prime Minister's Press Office - A vehicle destroyed by damaged buildings in the eastern city of Derna

Images posted by residents on social media show a completely devastating scene: damaged roads, destroyed and flooded buildings and citizens trapped in cars. Abdul Hamid Dbeibé, Prime Minister of the Tripoli government, has declared Derna a disaster zone, decreed three days of national mourning and called for "the unity of all Libyans". He also appealed for assistance from local and international organisations. 

La gente se encuentra en una carretera dañada mientras una poderosa tormenta y fuertes lluvias inundaban la ciudad de Shahhat, Libia, el 11 de septiembre de 2023 

AFP - Map of floods in Libya

In this regard, the US special envoy to Libya, Richard Norton, announced via Twitter that Washington would send aid, "coordinating with UN partners and Libyan authorities to assess how best to target official US assistance".  

Vista general del agua de la inundación que cubre el área mientras una poderosa tormenta y fuertes lluvias azotaron Al-Mukhaili, Libia, el 11 de septiembre de 2023, en esta fotografía 

PHOTO/ Al-Hadath vía REUTERS
PHOTO/ Al-Hadath vía REUTERS - General view of Al-Mukhaili in the aftermath of the storm

Other countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Iran and Germany have also expressed their willingness to provide assistance to the country. Turkey, an ally of the Dbeibé government, has already sent several planes with humanitarian aid, and 168 search and rescue teams are expected to arrive in the country in the coming hours. The UN has also said it is "closely monitoring" the serious situation in the east of the country.  

 The heavy flooding has also impacted Libya's important oil sector. The National Oil Company, whose main oil fields are located in eastern Libya, declared "a state of high alert" and suspended flights between production sites, which significantly reduced activity.  

La gente se encuentra en una carretera dañada mientras una poderosa tormenta y fuertes lluvias inundaban la ciudad de Shahhat, Libia, el 11 de septiembre de 2023 

REUTERS/OMAR JARHMAN - A road damaged by the storm in Shahhat

Tragedy has struck Derna again years after the city was under Daesh control and witnessed violent battles between the jihadists and the Libyan National Army, which managed to liberate the city in 2018.  

The floods have also affected other Libyan coastal cities such as Benghazi, Sousse and Al-Marj. The storm has also reached other nearby countries such as Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, while it is expected to reach Egypt in the coming days.