Satellite images show flood devastation that killed more than 11,000 in Libya

Libya Floods

Satellite images show flood devastation that killed more than 11,000 in Libya this satellite image, captured by Planet Labs PBC, illustrates the extent of flooding in Derna, Libya, on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. The devastating inundation occurred in Derna and various other regions of eastern Libya during the night of Sunday, September 10, 2023. As the storm lashed the coastal areas, residents of Derna reported hearing powerful explosions and soon realized that the dams situated outside the city had given way. Consequently, torrents of flash floods surged down Wadi Derna, a river coursing from the mountains, through the city, and into the sea. (Image courtesy of Planet Labs PBC via AP)

DARNA, Libya (AP) — Satellite images reveal the widespread devastation caused by a catastrophic flood that claimed the lives of over 11,300 residents in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.

On Monday, two dams located upstream from Derna gave way due to the relentless rainfall brought by a powerful storm. The unleashed torrent surged through the city’s low-lying areas, ultimately reaching the Mediterranean Sea.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing deafening explosions as the dams ruptured, unleashing a flood several meters high that cascaded down the mountainside and into the heart of Derna.

Images captured from approximately 400 miles above the Earth’s surface vividly display the aftermath of the storm, leaving a thick layer of mud and debris covering the city. Underneath this muck lie countless victims, buried amidst overturned cars and chunks of concrete.

The death toll has tragically climbed to 11,300, with an additional 10,100 individuals reported as missing, according to Marie El-Drese, the secretary-general of the Libyan Red Crescent, who conveyed this grim update to The Associated Press over the phone on Thursday.

Furthermore, the satellite images depict the extent of the destruction, with debris extending into the shallow waters near Derna’s shoreline, causing the sea to take on a noticeable brown hue. Some of the bodies swept away by the floodwaters have returned with the tide, as reported by rescue workers.

The catastrophic flooding has displaced a minimum of 30,000 residents in Derna, as reported by the International Organization for Migration, a branch of the United Nations. In addition, several thousand people from neighboring eastern towns have been compelled to abandon their homes.

The essential infrastructure of the city, including bridges and buildings along the Wadi Derna River, has been obliterated. The damage to roads has significantly hampered the delivery of aid, with assistance beginning to reach the city only on Tuesday evening.


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