Libya: Agitated Protestors Torch Derna’s Mayor’s House

Residents of Derna who were able to survive the inundating deluge torched Mayor of Derna’s houses claiming that the officials could have warned them about possible flooding prior to the rainfall. The city has already witnessed a jeopardizing flood sweeping away everyone and everything coming in its way. The death toll has reached 10,000 officially while UN claims death toll is higher than disseminated.

The home of Derna’s mayor, Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi, has become a focal point for people’s anger. Survivors say they were not sufficiently warned by the officials, who they believe must have known a huge amount of rainfall was coming.

In the wake of deadly flooding, the agitated survivors gathered outside the city’s landmark Sahaba Mosque. The protests were chanting for top officials in Libya’s eastern government to be sacked. The city already reeling by the death and despair caused by flooding is now in a state of chaos. Dern’a entire city council has already been dismissed. The internet and telephone access have been shut down by the local authorities and the journalists are ordered to leave as part of a media crackdown.

Trouble brewed when Storm Daniel formed over Greece on September 4. The storm caused strong winds, heavy rains, flooding and deaths in Greece and also affected Turkey and Bulgaria before crossing the Mediterranean. Daniel made a landfall in Libya late night on Sunday, September 10 taking the residents of Derna by surprise who were sleeping. Heavy rainfall caused caused flooding in cities along Libya’s eastern coast, including Benghazi, Bayda and Derna.

Adding to the catastrophe, two dams built on River Wadi Derna burst upstream from Derna; releasing an estimated 30 million cubic metres (39 million cubic yards) of water that ripped apart the city of about 100,000 inhabitants. Derna is worst affected due to the bursting of delipidated dams adding to the brunt of raging water racing downhill from the mountains into the sea.

Both dams had not been maintained for more than two decades, and the delipidated infrastructure was not built to withstand the effects of heavy rainfall caused by Storm Daniel.

The raging water destroyed the roads, bulldozed houses and other buildings. Hundreds are still missing while dead bodies were washed ashore. Dead bodies were hard to be identified due to being in water. The UN said the death toll so far stands at some 11,300. The final total remains unclear until now, although the one thing that is certain is the sheer scale of this catastrophe.


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