Libyan flood survivors weigh lack of water against risk of landmines | Albiseyler

Libyan flood survivors weigh lack of water against risk of landmines
  • The search for survivors continues a week after the disaster
  • The report warns of the twin risks of water shortages and mines
  • Volunteers from the west of divided Libya bring aid to the east
  • At least three Greek rescuers died in a traffic accident – minister

DERNA, Libya, Sept 17 (Reuters) – People whose homes were swept away by floods in the eastern Libyan city of Derna a week ago faced a dilemma on Sunday whether to stay and risk infection or flee through areas where landmines had been pushed out. torrents.

Thousands of people were killed after two dams on the Derna burst on September 10 during a heavy storm, toppling blocks of flats lining the usually dry riverbed as people slept. Many bodies were washed out to sea.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Saturday put the death toll of the Libyan Red Crescent at 11,300. However, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent appeared to dispute this, saying “the numbers are changing and the Red Crescent is not to blame”.

OCHA spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said it was difficult to get exact figures on casualties as the search for bodies and survivors continued, and said the World Health Organization (WHO) had so far confirmed 3,922 dead. The health minister of Libya’s eastern government said on Sunday that 3,283 had died.

More than 1,000 have already been buried in mass graves, the UN says, and humanitarian organizations have warned against the practice.

Libyan authorities have confirmed that 150 people have been poisoned by contaminated water in areas affected by the floods. Mohamed Wanis Tajouri said he came to Derna from Benghazi along the coast with other medical students to perform disinfection and sterilization.

“Epidemics happen after floods,” he said.

Sunday’s sunrise revealed a scene of silent devastation with piles of rubble on the sides of empty roads along with tangled metal including pieces of wrecked cars.

Hamad Awad sat on a blanket in an empty street with a bottle of water and bedding beside him.

“I’m staying in our area, trying to clean it up and trying to verify who’s missing,” he said. “Thank God for giving us patience.

Entire neighborhoods of Derny, with an estimated population of at least 120,000, were swept away or buried in the mud. State media said at least 891 buildings were destroyed in the city, whose mayor said 20,000 people may have died.

Mohamed Alnaji Bushertila, a government employee, said 48 members of his extended family were missing. Another resident said the survivors were at a loss for what to do next.

“We still don’t know anything, we hear rumours, some try to calm us down, others say you have to leave the city or stay here,” said the man, who gave only one name, Wasfi. “We have no water or resources.

The homeless survive in makeshift shelters, schools or crammed into the homes of relatives or friends, OCHA said.

Floodwaters have displaced landmines and other munitions left over from years of conflict, posing another risk to thousands of displaced people on the road, he added.

OCHA said more than 40,000 people had been displaced across northeastern Libya, according to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration, but warned the number was likely to be higher.


Aid organizations have flown in emergency aid and some countries have sent supplies, although international officials say much more is needed.

Three members of a Greek rescue team were killed in a traffic accident en route to Derna from Benghazi, the Greek armed forces said, while two members remain missing.

Earlier, the health minister of Libya’s eastern government said four members were killed and seven others were left in critical condition. Three members of a Libyan family were also killed and two were critical.

In the footage broadcast by the Libyan Al Masar TV, a French field hospital was being prepared.

“People came with help from all over the world and it made us feel relieved and we felt that we were not alone,” Derna resident Hassan Awad said as civil protection workers from Algeria searched through the rubble of multi-storey buildings in the city. survivor.

Pointing to a rusty pole between two buildings, Awad said that by clinging to it, his family survived a flood that tore through their house and covered everything in mud.

“We found dead bodies of neighbors, friends and loved ones,” he said. On the embankment, an excavator moved broken furniture and cars to try to find victims underneath. Another excavator cleared rubble from the buildings as rescuers stopped and knelt nearby to pray.

In al Badya, a coastal settlement west of Derna, a hospital treated Derna casualties as well as its own. When the floods hit, medics put up makeshift dams on the street to try to contain the water, but it rose inside the building.

The flooding affected machinery on the lower floor of the hospital, hospital chief Abdel Rahim Mazek said.

Elsewhere in the city, volunteers distributed clothes and food.

Volunteer Abdulnabi said the team came from Ajaylat, about 800 miles (1,200 km) away in western Libya, separated from the east by more than a decade of conflict.

The country of 7 million has lacked a strong central government since the NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and its oil wealth is dispersed among rival groups.

Analysts said the disaster had brought some coordination between the internationally-backed administration in Tripoli in the west and a rival administration in the east, but that reconstruction efforts were likely to reopen fault lines.

Additional reporting by Abdelaziz Boumzar, Ayman Sahly and Essam ElFatori in Derna, the UN’s Michelle Nichols, Adam Makary, Thomas Perry and Maya Gebeila; by Philippa Fletcher and James Oliphant; edited by Christina Fincher, Susan Fenton, Conor Humphries and Diane Craft

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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