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Libya's search for missing intensifies as death toll continues to rise

There are concerns that waterborne diseases are spreading, and authorities have urged people to use bottled water if possible.
Libya's search for missing intensifies as death toll continues to rise
Posted at 3:49 PM, Sep 16, 2023

The search continues after heavy rains from Mediterranean Storm Daniel caused catastrophic flooding across eastern Libya.

 In Libya’s coastal city of Derna, which is prone to flooding, entire neighborhoods were washed away.

 According to the Libyan Red Crescent, the death toll has surpassed 11,000 as search and rescue teams from around the world look for bodies and possible survivors. Authorities say they believe 10,000 people are still missing.

Two dams protecting the city collapsed early on Monday while most residents were asleep, sending a meter-high wall of water through the city.

Derna’s deputy mayor, Ahmed Madroud, told Al Jazeera that the dams haven’t been maintained since 2002, and the damage will be difficult to repair. 

SEE MORE: A visual investigation into why thousands died in Libya flooding

Libya’s chief prosecutor has ordered an investigation into the collapse of the two dams.

 "I reassure the citizens that whoever made a mistake, neglected, the prosecution will certainly take firm measures, file a criminal case against him, and put him on trial," said Libya's chief prosecutor Al-Siddiq Al-Sou.

Residents near a dam were seen burying bodies.

  "It is so difficult. Nothing I tell you could express just how deeply painful this is. But we belong to God, and to him we return," said volunteer Abdullah.

A man who survived the floods says he and several others got on top of the roof of their three-story building when water rushed through their street. He’s been helping recover bodies.

 "We found a house with 30 dead people, another with 12 dead, and two survived and the rest we searched for and recovered their bodies," said Rashad Ezzat Abdel-Hamid.

 Russia’s emergency ministry delivered humanitarian aid to Libya on Saturday, including blankets, tents, and emergency rescue kits.

At least 30,000 people have been displaced in Derna, according to the United Nations' international organization for migration.

Additionally, there are concerns that waterborne diseases are spreading, according to The Associated Press. Haider al-Saeih, head of Libya's disease combat center, reported 150 cases of diarrhea in Derna due to contaminated water and urged the use of bottled water.

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