Thousands are feared dead after a heavy storm in the Mediterranean Sea brought severe rain to northeastern Libya over the weekend, overwhelming two dams to the point of collapse and flooding areas with flowing waters.
At least 5,300 people are thought to be dead, the interior ministry of Libya’s eastern government told LANA, the country’s state news agency, Tuesday.
Some 10,000 are reported missing, Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, said during a press conference Tuesday.
Some 5,000 to 6,000 people are missing in the city of Derna alone, Ahmed Mismari, the spokesman for the Libyan National Army that controls eastern Libya, said during a press conference, adding that the number could increase.
Mismari said disaster struck after the two dams above Derna collapsed, “sweeping whole neighborhoods with their residents into the sea.”
Officials were not prepared for a storm of this magnitude. “The weather conditions were not studied well, the seawater levels and rainfall [were not studied], the wind speeds, there was no evacuation of families that could be in the path of the storm and in valleys,” Osama Aly, the head of Libya’s Emergency and Ambulance authority, told CNN.
The North African nation was hit by Mediterranean storm Daniel this weekend, striking the coastal towns of Libya most severely. The National Center of Meteorology in Libya tracked more than 16 inches of rain falling in a 24-hour period over the weekend, according to Floodlist, a website that tracks flooding. Some 9.44 inches fell in Marawah in the District of Jabal al Akhdar, Floodlist reported. In Derna, where some of the most severe effects of the storm have been seen due to the collapsed dams, about 2.87 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period. The World Meteorological Organization estimates the mean rainfall in Benghazi—the largest city in the eastern part of the country—is 0.13 inches for the month of September. Before Daniel hit Libya it caused flooding in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, killing at least 14 people, the Associated Press reported.