Libya: 10,000 missing in catastrophic floods, says Red Cross

Deadly floods triggered by a powerful storm have left a trail of destruction in eastern Libya. Hundreds of bodies were recovered in one city alone after dams collapsed and wiped out neighborhoods

People are believed to be trapped in their homes, as rescue authorities survey damage after rains over the weekend (Photo: DW)
People are believed to be trapped in their homes, as rescue authorities survey damage after rains over the weekend (Photo: DW)


At least 10,000 people are missing after a powerful storm caused devastating floods in northeastern Libya, according to an official from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 

According to Libyan emergency services on the ground, more than 2,300 have been killed, while more than 5,000 people missing and some 7,000 were injured.

Rescue teams have begun retrieving hundreds of bodies from the rubble after heavy rainfall over the weekend caused dams to break, washing away entire districts.

"The death toll is huge and might reach thousands," Tamer Ramadan, the head of the IRFC delegation in Libya, told reporters.

"We can confirm from our independent sources of information that the number of missing people is hitting 10,000 persons so far," he added.

Three volunteers from the Libyan Red Crescent have lost their lives "while on duty," IFRC chief Jagan Chapagain wrote on X, the media platform formerly known as Twitter.

EU pledges help

The European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said they were following the situation closely and stood ready to provide support. 

"Saddened by images of devastation in Libya, ravaged by extreme weather conditions causing the tragic loss of many lives," Borrell wrote on X.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz offered condolences to the people affected, saying the situation was dire. "We are in contact with the UN and partners about possible help," he wrote on X.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani wrote on X they were responding to requests for support, adding that "an assessment team is already on its way, coordinated by our civil protection unit."

Turkey has sent aircrafts carrying rescue workers and United Arab Emirates has pledged to do so, too. Algeria and Egypt have offered their condolences to the people of the North African country.

Uncertainty lingers in divided nation 

Libya is divided between rival administrations in the west and east. 

The eastern port city of Derna, once held by Islamic extremists in the years that followed strongman Moammar Gadhafi's ouster, was among the hardest hit by the rains.

The west is ruled by an internationally recognized government in Tripoli, while the east is controlled by a separate administration. 

Officials in the administration in the eastern part of the divided country put the death toll at 1,000 on Tuesday.

They said Monday they feared at least 2,000 people had died, though it was not clear what they were basing the number on. The government in Tripoli is yet to issue a count for deaths.

The chaos and split in governance in the oil-rich nation has long left cities with crumbling and inadequate structures.

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Published: 12 Sep 2023, 7:07 PM