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UN warns of disease threat in flood-ravaged east Libya

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DERNA: The UN on Monday warned that disease outbreaks could bring "a second devastating crisis" to Libya a week after a massive flash flood devastated the coastal city of Derna, sweeping thousands to their deaths.

Local officials, aid agencies and the World Health Organization "are concerned about the risk of disease outbreak, particularly from contaminated water and the lack of sanitation", the United Nations said.

The flash flood that has killed nearly 3,300 people and left thousands more missing came as the war-scarred North African country was lashed by the hurricane-strength Storm Daniel on September 10.

Tens of thousands of traumatised residents are now homeless and badly in need of clean water, food and basic supplies amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition, UN agencies have warned.

As rescue teams from several European and Arab countries kept up the grim search for bodies in the mud-caked wasteland of smashed buildings, crushed cars and uprooted trees, Derna survivors recounted the horror of the events.

Death toll remained unknown, with untold numbers swept into the sea.

Soldier Hamza Al-Khafifi, 45, described finding the unclothed bodies of "old, young, women, men and children" washing up on the shore a week after the disaster.

"Bodies were stuck between rocks."

The health minister of the eastern administration, Othman Abdeljalil, has said that 3,283 people were now confirmed dead in Derna.

Libyan officials and humanitarian organisations have warned, however, that the final toll could be much higher with thousands still missing.

Five members of a Greek rescue team were killed in a road accident while travelling from Benghazi to Derna on Sunday, Greek officials said.

Abdeljalil said their vehicle collided with a car carrying a Libyan family, three of whose members died while two others were seriously injured.

Emergency response teams and aid have been deployed from France, Greece, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday the UN mission in Libya said nine United Nations agencies were involved in efforts to deliver aid and support to survivors.

The United Nations has launched an aid appeal for more than $71 million.

The rushing waters submerged a six-square-kilometre densely-populated area in Derna, damaging 1,500 buildings of which 891 were totally razed

UN experts have blamed the high death toll on climatic factors as the Mediterranean region has sweltered under an unusually hot summer. — AFP

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