The death toll from catastrophic flooding in Libya could climb as high as 40,000, a former official has warned, as rescuers struggled to reach the devastated port city of Derna.
In a grim turn of events, thousands of bodies have washed up in eastern Libya following the unprecedented flooding that has swept the nation. Official figures put the current death toll at over 5,000. However, Moin Kikhia, a former civil servant in Libya’s finance ministry, believes that the self-proclaimed government governing the eastern region of the country fears that the true toll could be in the tens of thousands.
“The number of deaths is much larger than first thought, but no one has exact numbers,” Mr. Kikhia, the founder of the Libyan Democratic Institute, told Who Owns Africa. “The government thinks it might exceed 40,000 dead, but no one wants to say it for fear of making the people angry.”
As the seriousness of the situation unravels, first satellite images of eastern Libya have shown the sheer scale of the damage inflicted upon the worst affected city, Derna, where entire neighbourhoods have been swept away by the flooding. Devastation is visible from an aerial view of a key dam in the area, clearly depicting its burst under the sheer pressure of the flooding, exacerbating the deluge and making it significantly more deadly.
Amidst the chaos, some aid groups have managed to reach Derna, but the self-proclaimed government in the region has called for an international response, acknowledging their limited capacity to handle the immense scale of the disaster.
While the world watches in disbelief, the magnitude of the floods and the loss of life in Libya represents a stark reminder of the severity of natural disasters and the perpetual struggle to mitigate their effects. As authorities and aid organisations scramble to respond, the immediate priority is to rescue survivors, provide medical attention, and distribute emergency supplies to those affected.
The long-term implications of this devastating event cannot be underestimated. Beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis, Libya will face monumental challenges in rebuilding homes, infrastructure, and livelihoods. The emotional scars and trauma inflicted upon the survivors will also require significant attention and support.
On Wednesday evening, King Charles conveyed his condolences to the Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi. In his message, the King expressed his deep sadness at the loss of life and destruction caused by Storm Daniel and the subsequent floods.
He extended his sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and offered his prayers to those whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by the floods. The King commended the bravery of those involved in the rescue efforts and assured the Libyan authorities of his government’s readiness to provide support.
According to Mr Kikhia, a significant number of foreign migrants are likely to have lost their lives in the floods. The collapse of the dams in Derna, which was caused by years of conflict and the failure of officials to maintain them, has exacerbated the situation.
Experts have warned that the lack of security and monitoring of safety measures could lead to further catastrophes in the water and energy sectors. The recent floods have only added to the existing humanitarian crisis in Libya, with over 1.5 million people already in need of assistance.
Jean-Michel Grand, the executive director of Action Against Hunger UK, has called for increased humanitarian aid to address the growing needs of the country.