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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Thousands Reported Dead in Libyan Floods



By Saurav Sarkar


“Democracy Now!” reported that the mayor of Derna, which sits on the Mediterranean in northeastern Libya, has said the final death toll from storm-related floods in Libya might reach as high as 20,000. Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) cited an unnamed World Health Organization official based in Libya who said that the number of deaths was in the range of 7,000.


An unusually strong storm called Daniel led to two dams breaching, washing away whole neighborhoods in Derna. Other towns in eastern Libya were affected by the flooding as well, reported the AP.


“They were screaming, ‘Help, help!’” said Mohammed Derna, a 34-year-old teacher, to the AP. Derna and his family spent the night of September 10 on the roof as they saw others carried away by the water. “It was like a Hollywood horror movie,” he said.


While cyclones do affect the Mediterranean, such strong storms have been rare in the past compared to tropical areas. No definitive study has been conducted yet establishing a link between Daniel and climate change, but warmer sea temperatures are generally believed by scientists to produce more intense storms.


With two major governments persisting in Libya since the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2011, two civil wars, and Western strikes on the country, relief efforts must contend with both decimated infrastructure and a potentially difficult political situation. As of September 14, though, both governments have cooperated in addressing the fallout from Daniel.

The storm also hit Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria.


Saurav Sarkar is a freelance writer and editor who covers political activism and labor movements. They live in Long Island, New York, and have also lived in New York City, New Delhi, London, and Washington, D.C. Follow them on Twitter @sauravthewriter and at sauravsarkar.com.


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