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Libya floods: Search for missing intensifies as more bodies surface
Derna: In the aftermath of the devastating floods triggered by Storm Daniel in Libya's eastern city of Derna, a desperate search for missing individuals persists, with bodies still being discovered along its shores and buried beneath debris, even a week after the calamity struck, Al Jazeera reported.
According to a report by the United Nations released on Sunday, the death toll in Derna alone has tragically risen to 11,300. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), citing the Libyan Red Crescent, also reported that 10,100 people are currently missing in the heavily affected city. The OCHA report emphasized that these figures are expected to increase in the coming days and weeks as search-and-rescue teams tirelessly work to locate survivors.
International aid has begun to trickle into the region, with the UN and various countries from Europe and the Middle East offering assistance to survivors, including the 40,000 people who have been displaced by the disaster. This aid includes crucial supplies such as medicines, food, tents, blankets, and hygiene kits.
Additionally, heavy machinery has been provided to aid in debris removal, along with body bags to facilitate the respectful handling of deceased individuals, as reported by Al Jazeera.
On Derna's seafront, where the aftermath of the disaster is evident, rescue teams are working tirelessly to clear the way for further relief efforts. A helicopter scans the sea for bodies, and diggers strive to remove obstacles obstructing rescue operations.
The devastating flooding brought about by Storm Daniel was exacerbated by the poor infrastructure in Libya, a nation that has faced turmoil since the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that led to the toppling and death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. In Derna, which has an estimated population of at least 120,000, entire districts were swept away or buried in brown mud after two dams south of the city broke, releasing torrents of floodwater down a usually dry riverbed.
A resident of Derna, Khalid, shared his experience, saying, "We were all taken by surprise. We never expected such a catastrophe. I lost my young daughter. May God accept her and have mercy… we are helpless. God almighty is our rock," according to Al Jazeera.
The UN's humanitarian affairs office has initiated an appeal for USD 71 million to aid those affected by the disaster. The World Health Organization has also taken action, flying in emergency aid to reach nearly 2,50,000 people in eastern Libya, providing essential medicines, surgery supplies, and body bags.
Saudi Arabia and Russia have contributed aid flights, including mobile hospitals, while an Italian naval ship arrived in Derna with supplies such as tents, blankets, water pumps, and tractors.
Tragically, over 1,000 individuals have been laid to rest in mass graves, prompting concerns from aid organizations about the potential contamination of water sources and the emotional distress experienced by the families of the deceased. However, the head of Libya's National Centre for Disease Control, Hayder al-Sayah, stated that the risk from corpses was minimal unless they carried diseases.
Nevertheless, recorded cases of diarrhoea have increased, with 150 cases reported, up from 55 on Friday, due to people consuming polluted water, Al Jazeera reported.