Only in the city of Derna 5,300 dead and 10,000 missing
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Only in the city of Derna 5,300 dead and 10,000 missing

The death toll in Derna alone has exceeded 5,300, the state-run news agency said on Tuesday, citing Mohamed Abu-Lamoush, spokesman for eastern Libya’s interior ministry. Emergency services in Derna previously estimated the number at 2,300 people.

The terrible deaths and destruction caused by the Mediterranean storm Daniel highlighted the intensity of the storm, but also the vulnerability of a nation that has been torn apart by chaos for more than a decade. The country is divided by rival governments, one in the east and the other in the west, leading to the neglect of infrastructure in many areas.

Outside aid was just beginning to arrive in Derna on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after the disaster struck the country. Flooding has damaged or destroyed many access roads to this coastal city of about 89,000 residents.
Video footage shows dozens of bodies covered in blankets in the hospital yard. Another picture shows a mass grave full of bodies. More than 1,500 bodies have been found and half of them buried on Tuesday night, eastern Libya’s health minister said.

However, the death toll is likely to be even higher, numbering in the thousands, said Tamer Ramadan, envoy to Libya for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. At a United Nations press conference in Geneva, he said via video conference from Tunisia that at least 10,000 people are still missing. He also mentioned on Tuesday that more than 40,000 people have been displaced.
The situation in Libya is “as devastating as the situation in Morocco,” Ramadan said, referring to the deadly earthquake that struck the country near the city of Marrakesh on Friday night.

Destruction engulfed Derna and other areas of eastern Libya on Sunday evening. As the storm hit the coast, residents of Derna reported hearing loud explosions and noticing dams outside the town collapsing. Flash floods broke out in Wadi Derna, a river that flows from the mountains through the city to the sea.

The wall of water “wiped out everything in its path,” said city resident Ahmed Abdalla.

Videos posted online by other residents show vast areas of mud and debris where raging waters washed away neighborhoods along both banks of the river. High-rise buildings that once stood far from the river had torn facades and collapsed concrete floors. Cars lifted by the flood are abandoned on top of each other.

The city of Bayda recorded a record rainfall of 414.1 millimeters from Sunday to Monday.

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