Just one week ago, the city of Derna in Libya experienced a catastrophic event when swiftly rising waters breached two upstream river dams. This unleashed a powerful tidal wave that surged through the heart of this coastal city, home to 100,000 residents, on September 10, 2023. The aftermath of this disaster has been nothing short of devastating. The death toll has tragically risen to 11,300 lives lost, with more than 20,000 individuals still unaccounted for. Among the grim statistics, 283 bodies have been recovered from the unforgiving sea, while 1,500 buildings stand damaged, bearing the scars of the torrential waters. Heartbreakingly, 891 structures have been completely wiped out by the territorial waters, their existence erased.
“We are preparing the place according to the figures that we are hearing, according to the number of the dead and the number of the missing. The missing are presumed dead. We can only hope that these numbers are not correct,” one of the men, Mohamed el-Sharwy
But the impact goes beyond mere numbers. This flooding has left a profound and lasting scar on Libya. The heart of a community has been torn asunder, with entire residential blocks now resting beneath the Mediterranean's depths. Educational institutions, essential for the future of the city's youth, have been decimated, with 95% of them reduced to ruins. The health officials said that more than 2,500 people were buried in the first three days after the disaster to avoid infections and diseases.
In the wake of the disaster in Derna, Libya, a staggering 30,000 survivors find themselves in a dire situation. They are not only traumatized by the events but are homeless also, facing the harsh realities of life without shelter. Their urgent needs for basic necessities such as clean drinking water and food are paramount.
“We can’t comprehend this. I can’t sleep at night. There is no sleep. It’s only a brief rest so I can resume work the following day,” Sharwy says.
Adding to this critical situation, the region is grappling with a health crisis. Conditions like Diarrhea, Cholera, and Dehydration are spreading among the vulnerable survivors, further exacerbating their suffering. Malnutrition has also become a pressing concern as access to proper sustenance remains a challenge.
“This is God’s will. It’s a cruel one. But we accept it.” Kawwash says.
In September 2023, Storm Daniel, also referred to as Cyclone Daniel, made a significant impact as the deadliest and most expensive Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone ever recorded. This weather event was not only the most fatal of the year but also caused extensive damage across Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey due to severe flooding. Initially forming as a low-pressure system around September 4 2023, the storm gradually evolved into a Mediterranean low, earning the name Storm Daniel. It eventually exhibited quasi-tropical characteristics and made its way toward Libya's coast, leading to catastrophic flooding before dissipating into a remnant low-pressure system.