- By Kathryn Armstrong
- BBC news
Five members of a Greek humanitarian aid team and three members of a Libyan family have died in a traffic accident in eastern Libya.
Rescuers were part of a team traveling by bus to the flood-ravaged town of Derna on Sunday when their vehicle collided with a car carrying a family.
Two others in the car and eight others in the bus were seriously injured, according to a Libyan official.
An investigation has been launched.
Othman Abdeljalil, the health minister in the administration that rules the east of the country, told a news conference that the team was traveling from the eastern city of Benghazi when the accident occurred.
He put the death toll at four, but Greek officials said five members of their aid team were killed.
“Five bodies, including three Greek army officials and two translators from the Greek Foreign Ministry who were part of the humanitarian team, will be repatriated to Athens on Monday,” the Greek chiefs of staff said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency. .
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the accident as a “tragedy”.
“The whole country is in mourning,” he said.
Libya is divided between two rival governments – a United Nations-backed administration based in the capital Tripoli and a rival Egyptian-backed authority based in Benghazi.
Greek authorities said a bus carrying medical personnel collided with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.
They added that it was unclear exactly what happened and that they were investigating the incident in cooperation with Libya while an operation was underway to repatriate their personnel.
A diplomatic source told the Greek news website Kathimerini that 16 members of the team were Greek rescuers and three interpreters.
They were on their way to join teams from other countries, including France and Italy.
When two dams over the Derna burst during a heavy storm a week ago, thousands of people died. The UN puts the death toll at about 11,300 so far.
More than 10,000 others remain officially unaccounted for, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.