The powerful Mediterranean storm Daniel, which hit eastern Libya on Sunday and Monday, has caused floods resulting in at least 150 deaths and significant damage. Authorities fear a much higher human toll.
Morocco: Earthquake Death Toll Rises to Nearly 2,500 After Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, Libya is now also struck by the “storm Daniel.” The country experienced flooding due to heavy rains, resulting in at least 150 deaths in the eastern region, according to an official source on Monday, September 11.
“At least 150 people have been killed due to floods caused by storm Daniel in Derna, the Jabal Al-Akhdar regions, and the outskirts of Al-Marj,” said Mohamed Massoud, the spokesperson for the head of the parallel government based in Benghazi (east).
In a telephone interview with the local TV channel Al Massar, the head of the executive branch, Oussama Hamad, who controls the eastern part of the country, stated on Monday that “the missing are in the thousands,” and the death toll is “over 2,000,” without specifying the source of this toll.
“Maximum Alert State” Described by experts as an “extreme phenomenon in terms of rainfall,” the storm, named Daniel, also struck Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, resulting in at least 27 deaths.
It also caused “significant damage to infrastructure and private properties,” added the Libyan spokesperson, according to France24.
The storm “Daniel” hit eastern Libya on Sunday afternoon, particularly the coastal cities of Jabal al-Akhdar (northeast) and Benghazi, where a curfew was imposed, and schools were closed. The region had already been experiencing heavy rains for several days.
The eastern part of the country houses the main oil fields and terminals. The National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared a “maximum alert state” and “suspended flights” between production sites where activity has been drastically reduced.
Rescue teams were dispatched to Derna on Sunday, a city with over 100,000 inhabitants (900 km east of Tripoli), crossed by a wadi that flows into the Mediterranean. According to Mohamed Massoud, the eastern Libyan authorities “lost contact with nine soldiers during rescue operations in this city.”
Chaos On Monday, Oussama Hamad, the head of the parallel government appointed by Parliament and based in eastern Libya, declared Derna a “disaster-stricken city.” Hundreds of residents are still stranded in hard-to-reach areas while rescue teams, supported by the army, are trying to assist them.
Footage from residents of Eastern cities like Derna, al-Bayda, and small towns shows impressive mudslides and entire neighborhoods submerged in water, as well as collapsed roads and buildings.
A municipal council official in Derna described the situation in his city as “catastrophic,” “out of control,” and in need of “national and international intervention,” in statements to the local channel Libya al-Ahrar. He reported the collapse of four main bridges and two buildings.
With the richest oil reserves in Africa, Libya has been plunged into chaos since the fall of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, shaken by divisions and violence.
For the past year and a half, two governments have been vying for power in Libya: Abdelhamid Dbeibah’s government in the West, recognized by the UN, and the government appointed by Parliament and supported by the strongman in the East, Khalifa Haftar.
“Three Days of National Mourning” During an extraordinary cabinet meeting broadcast live on television on Monday, Abdelhamid Dbeibah announced “three days of national mourning,” emphasizing the “unity of all Libyans” in the face of this catastrophe.
The UN mission in Libya said it is “closely monitoring the emergency situation… in the eastern region of the country,” expressing solidarity with the families of the victims, in a message posted on X (formerly Twitter).
The French ambassador to Libya, Mostafa Mihraje, offered condolences to the victims and expressed “solidarity with the Libyan people in this ordeal,” also on X.
In neighboring Egypt, authorities have called for caution on the north coast bordering eastern Libya and announced preparations to minimize the impact of storm Daniel. Meteorological forecasts predict heavy rains for three days.