Mediterranean storm Daniel caused devastating floods in Libya, leaving at least 2,300 people are dead and as many as 10,000 missing after two dams broke and swept entire neighborhoods away.
“Our teams on the ground are still doing their assessment but from what we see and news coming to us, the death toll is huge,” said Tamer Ramadan, the Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, during a U.N. briefing.
According to Ramadan, more than 40,000 people have been displaced. Help was only just arriving in the coastal city of Derna on Tuesday, where floods have damaged and ruined many of the access roads.
Libya’s National Meteorological Center stated in a press release Tuesday that it used early warnings for this extreme weather event 72 hours before its occurrence, and notified all governmental authorities by e-mails and through media. It urged them to take more care and caution as well as preventative measures.
A state of emergency was then declared in the eastern regions based on these warnings. The center also reported that Bayda recorded a record 414.1 millimeters or 16.3 inches of rain from Sunday to Monday.
Eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel, said via the The Associated Press that many bodies are believed to be trapped under rubble washed into the Mediterranean sea.
“We were stunned by the amount of destruction … the tragedy is very significant, and beyond the capacity of Derna and the government,' he said.
The Tripoli-based government of Western Libya has sent a plane with health workers and 14 tons of medical supplies to Benghaszi. It has also allocated $412 million for reconstruction in Derna and other eastern towns.
Planes carrying humanitarian aid and rescue teams from Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates arrived in Benghazi on Tuesday. Germany and France said they are also preparing to send rescue personnel and aid.
It is currently unknown how quickly aid will be able to arrive in Derna due to the conditions of the ground.
In a statement Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that the United States is sending emergency funds to relief organizations and coordinating with the Libyan authorities as well as the U.N. to provide additional support.