At least 150 people in Libya have died after a powerful storm caused heavy flooding in the eastern part of the country over the weekend, according to the Red Crescent in Benghazi, which noted that the death toll is expected to rise.
“We recorded at least 150 deaths after the collapse of buildings. We expect [the] death toll to rise to 250. The situation is very catastrophic,” Kais Fhakeri, the head of the humanitarian agency, told Reuters on Sept. 11.
Meanwhile, the government declared a state of emergency on Sept. 10, which included suspending classes at public and private schools, closing stores, and imposing a curfew.
Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, interim prime minister of Libya under the Government of National Unity based in Tripoli, said on Sept. 10 that he had directed all state agencies to “immediately deal” with the damage and floods in eastern cities.
Prime Minister Ossama Hamad of the east Libyan government told al-Masar TV by phone on Sept. 11 that he expects the death toll to rise to 2,000 in Derna, the worst-hit city, which had become inaccessible.
Daniel, a major Mediterranean storm, made landfall in the North African country on Sept. 10, causing severe weather conditions in the cities of Benghazi, Sousse, Al Bayda, Al-Marj, and Derna.
Ahmed Mohamed, a Derna resident, told the news outlet by phone on Sept. 11 that they were asleep when Daniel swept through eastern Libya, and when they woke up, they “found water besieging the house.”
“We are inside and trying to get out,” Mr. Mohamed said.
According to witnesses, the water level reached 10 feet in Derna, a city on the Mediterranean located some 150 miles east of Benghazi.
“We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives and our thoughts for all people affected,” UNSMIL said. “The United Nations stands ready to support efforts by local authorities and municipalities to respond to this emergency and provide urgent humanitarian assistance to complement national and local efforts.”
Libya, a country of more than 6 million people, suffers from debilitated infrastructure after more than a decade of conflict. The Mediterranean nation was plunged into chaos when a NATO-supported uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.
Daniel pummeled Libya just days after the storm struck Greece, where the death toll was raised to 15 on Sept. 10 after rescue teams recovered the bodies of four more people in the central part of the country.
The bodies of an 88-year-old woman and two men, aged 58 and 65, were found near the city of Karditsa, one of the worst-hit areas. Later, rescue teams found the body of a 42-year-old man in the area of Volos.
So far, more than 4,250 people have been evacuated, authorities said, as efforts were focused on villages near the city of Larissa and close to the River Pineios, parts of which have overflowed damaging villages further.
Daniel was expected to hit parts of west Egypt on Sept. 11, and the country’s meteorological authorities warned about possible rain and bad weather.