Libyan city buries 700 people killed in devastating floods as 10,000 still missing

In this photo provided by the Libyan government, a seaside road is collapsed after heavy flooding in Derna, Libya, on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. (Libyan government via AP)
In this photo provided by the Libyan government, a seaside road is collapsed after heavy flooding in Derna, Libya, on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. (Libyan government via AP)

Libya’s eastern city of Derna has buried 700 people killed in devastating flooding and 10,000 are reported missing as rescue teams struggle to retrieve many more bodies from the horrific deluge, officials say.

Mediterranean storm Daniel on Sunday night caused havoc and flash flooding in many towns in eastern Libya but the worst destruction was in Derna, where heavy rainfall and floods broke dams and washed away entire neighborhoods, authorities say.

“The situation is catastrophic,” says Othman Abduljaleel, the health minister in Libya’s eastern government. “The bodies are still lying on the ground in many parts (of the city). Hospitals are filled with bodies. And there are areas we have yet to reach.”

Authorities estimated earlier that as many as 2,000 people may have perished in Derna alone. The Ambulance and Emergency Authority, which coordinates search and rescue efforts, says that about 2,300 people died in Derna but does not clarify what that figure was based on.

Emergency responders, including troops, government workers, volunteers and residents were digging through rubble to recover the dead. They also used inflatable boats to retrieve bodies from the water. Excavators and other equipment have yet to arrive in Derna.

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