BENGHAZHI: At least 150 people were killed when freak floods hit eastern Libya, officials said on Monday, after storm “Daniel” swept the Mediterranean, its torrential rains earlier lashing Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece.
Images filmed by residents of the Libyan disaster area showed massive mudslides, collapsed buildings and entire neighbourhoods submerged under muddy water.
“At least 150 people were killed as a result of flooding and torrential rains left by storm Daniel in Derna, Jabal al-Akhdar region and the suburbs of Al-Marj,” said Mohamed Massoud, a spokesman for the Benghazi-based administration in Libya.
“This is besides the massive material damage that struck public and private properties,” he Said.
Hundreds of residents were still believed to be trapped in difficult-to-reach areas as rescuers, backed by the army, were trying to come to their aid.
The National Petroleum Company, whose main oilfields and terminals are in eastern Libya, declared “a state of maximum alert” and suspended flights between production sites where activity was drastically reduced.
Experts have described storm Daniel as “extreme in terms of the amount of water falling in a space of 24 hours”.
A Derna city council official described the situation in the city as “catastrophic” and in need of “national and international intervention”, speaking to the local TV channel Libya al-Ahrar.
He reported the collapse of four main bridges and two buildings in Derna, a city of 100,000 people that lies in a river wadi 900 kilometres (560 miles) east of the capital Tripoli.
The storm struck eastern Libya on Sunday afternoon, hitting especially the coastal town of Jabal al-Akhdar but also Benghazi, where a curfew was declared and schools closed for several days.
The United Nations mission in Libya on Monday said on X, formerly Twitter, that it was “closely following the emergency caused by severe weather conditions in the eastern region of the country”.
It expressed its condolences over the deaths and said it was “ready to support efforts by local authorities and municipalities to respond to this emergency and provide urgent humanitarian assistance”.
The French ambassador to Libya, Mostafa Mihraje, offered his condolences and expressed his “solidarity with the Libyan people in this ordeal”, also in a message on X. — AFP