Storm Daniel's Devastating Aftermath: Libya Grapples with Unprecedented Catastrophe
On September 12, Libya experienced an unprecedented catastrophe as Storm Daniel swept across its northeastern region. The storm, which originated from a potent low-pressure system previously seen in Greece, developed into a tropical-like cyclone, or medicane, fueled by above-average ocean temperatures linked to global warming. This climate disaster, part of a series of record-breaking weather extremes, has left the world in a state of shock, with over 5,000 people presumed dead and an estimated 10,000 still missing.
Derna, a city with a population of approximately 125,000, was the hardest hit, with almost a quarter of it decimated. Buildings were reduced to rubble, cars flipped over, and neighborhoods washed away. Hospitals are no longer operational, and morgues are overflowing. The storm's impact extended to several other cities, including Al-Bayda, Al-Marj, Tobruk, Takenis, Al-Bayada, Battah, and the eastern coast up to Benghazi, resulting in at least 37 residential buildings being swept into the sea.
Libya's ongoing political conflict, a decade-long standoff between the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU) in northwest Libya and the eastern-based administration led by commander Khalifa Haftar, has exacerbated the crisis. Despite deploying tens of thousands of military personnel, the political divide has hindered rescue efforts. Many affected regions remain unreachable for emergency workers, and the country now needs specialized search groups to recover bodies from rugged valleys, under rubble, and from the sea.
The international community has united in response to the disaster. Countries such as Turkey and Italy have sent search and rescue teams and humanitarian aid. The US has declared a humanitarian need, providing initial funding for relief efforts. The UAE and Egypt have also dispatched aid and rescue teams.
Personal stories of loss have begun to emerge from the chaos. Mostafa Salem lost 30 relatives in the floods, while Raja Sassi mourns the loss of most of his family. Naval teams are currently searching for families swept into the sea by the floods.
In the aftermath of the disaster, an investigation into the cause of the floods has been initiated, with 2.5bn Libyan Dinar (£412m; $515m) allocated for rebuilding Derna and Benghazi. Water engineering experts suggest that the upper dam, located 12km from the city, likely failed first, leading to the failure of the second dam.
This disaster underscores the urgent need for action on climate change and highlights the importance of political stability in responding to such crises. As Libya fights to recover from the devastation wrought by Storm Daniel, the world is reminded of the unseen fury of nature.
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