Residents who survived the devastating floods in the city of Derna on the east coast of Libya faced the threat of displaced landmines in surrounding areas on Sunday.
Residents said they had to think twice about wading through areas where landmines had been pushed out by raging torrents that swept away entire families in this week’s floods.
Many had to travel through the areas because they did not have fresh water in their homes as the floods contaminated local water sources. On Saturday, a local official reported at least 150 cases of diarrhea.
“It is not allowed to use regular drinking water in Derna under any circumstances because its percentage of contamination is very high,” Haider al-Sayeh, director of Libya’s National Center for Disease Control, said in a video statement.
Reuters news agency reported that the flooding is believed to have affected about a quarter of all buildings in Derna, with at least 891 buildings completely destroyed and 398 submerged in mud.
Death toll in thousands
Rescue efforts continue to search for survivors in the wreckage after a a devastating storm broke two dams on Sunday in Derna.
The number of victims is in the thousands, humanitarian groups give different numbers. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 11,300 people have died in the floods so far and more than 10,000 are missing in Derna.
The figures have been disputed by authorities with the Libyan Red Crescent and it is not clear exactly how many people have died in the floods, given the scale of the destruction and the political situation in the country.
An oil-rich North African nation he was confused since the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country is divided between competing administrations in East and West and administrations have no record of successful cooperation.
UN agencies have repeatedly pointed to concerns about the lack of basic needs among the population and warned of the risk of disease outbreaks.
The UN says at least 1,000 people have been buried so far. In Derna, bodies wrapped in sacks pile up on the streets as authorities try to bury them.
Most of the deaths could have been avoided if authorities had better warning systems, the United Nations Meteorological Agency said earlier this week.
Greek rescuers perished
Later on Sunday, it was reported that four Greek rescuers sent to Libya were killed in a road collision on Sunday, Tripoli’s health minister said.
Rescuers from Greece, Turkey, Egypt and other countries flocked to the port city to offer help.
On Sunday, a bus carrying 19 Greek rescue workers collided with a car carrying five Libyan nationals on the road between the cities of Benghazi and Derna, Health Minister Othman Abduljaleel said. Three Libyans were also killed in an oncoming vehicle.
Seven of the surviving Greek rescuers were in critical condition in hospital, the minister said.
Dam breach investigation
Officials have launched an investigation into the collapse of two dams that released a huge flood of water into Derna.
Minister Usama Hammad, who was appointed by the House of Representatives to lead the inquiry, said the investigation would look into how money meant for dam maintenance was mismanaged.
Questions have also been raised over reports of two cracks in one of the dams, which have reportedly been known since 1998.
ab, rm, jsi/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)