Torrential rain from a storm that swept across the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend caused two dams to burst in Derna, a coastal city in northeast Libya, killing at least 5,200 people and washing entire neighborhoods out to sea. Thousands more were missing in Derna and other flooded areas, and the death toll is likely to rise, local officials said.
Rescue efforts are underway, but it is unclear how much aid has made it to people. The devastating floods have blocked roads and effectively cut off access to Derna, city officials said. Complicating the rescue effort in Libya is its division between an internationally recognized government based in Tripoli and a separately administered region in the east.
Here’s what we know about the flooding in Libya.
A powerful storm moved through the Mediterranean Sea last week, swamping Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria before making its way to Libya, where it battered the coast over the weekend. Heavy rain hit the eastern part of the country, dousing Shahhat, Al-Bayda, Marj and other settlements and displacing more than 20,000 people. In Derna, a city of about 100,000 people, the rain overwhelmed two dams to the south, and the resulting flooding destroyed buildings, sank vehicles and left bodies strewn in the streets.
Libyans have posted in Facebook groups, begging for information about their missing loved ones.
Officials said on Tuesday that a third dam, located between Derna and Benghazi, another coastal city, was also on the brink of collapse.