Tall & Urban News

Catastrophic Flooding Breaks Dams in Libya

Photo courtesy of Justin Wilkens
Photo courtesy of Justin Wilkens
12 September 2023 | Derna, Libya

Heavy rainfall in northeastern Libya caused two dams to collapse, resulting in tragic loss of life and widespread devastation. The death toll has already exceeded 5,000 people, with an additional 10,000 still missing. The interior ministry of Libya's eastern government has reported that at least 5,300 people are believed to be dead, and the actual numbers may be even higher. The city of Derna in the east has been hit the hardest, with as many as 6,000 people still missing. The strong currents of muddy waters have wiped out entire neighborhoods. 

This rain, which swept across several cities in Libya’s northeast, is the result of a very strong low-pressure system that brought catastrophic flooding to Greece last week and moved into the Mediterranean before developing into a tropical-like cyclone known as a medicane. Scientists say the Mediterranean's above-average temperature fueled the storm’s heavy rainfall. The storm's heavy rainfall is another example of the disastrous effects of climate change, as ocean temperatures around the world continue to soar off the charts due to planet-warming pollution.

The collapse of two dams, which sent water rushing towards Derna, has caused catastrophic damage. Strong muddy currents carrying vehicles and debris washed away homes in valleys, making it difficult for rescue workers to search for survivors. Phone lines in the city are down, complicating rescue efforts, with workers unable to enter Derna due to the heavy destruction.

This storm is set to be one of the deadliest on record in North Africa. Tens of thousands of military personnel have been deployed, but many of the flood-stricken regions are still inaccessible to emergency workers. Libyan authorities require specialized search groups to recover bodies from the rugged valleys, the rubble, and the sea.

Several countries and human rights groups have offered aid as rescue teams scramble to find survivors under debris and rubble. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkey will send 168 search and rescue teams and humanitarian aid to Benghazi. Italy is sending a civil defense team to assist with rescue operations, and the US has declared a humanitarian need.

This deadly flooding in Libya is another reminder of the devastating effects of climate change and the urgent need for global action to mitigate its impact. It is also a stark reminder of the importance of international cooperation and assistance in times of crisis.

Read more about this story at CNN.