Confusion over the death toll from the September 10 disaster emerged after the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) over the weekend announced 11,300 dead and 10,100 missing in Derna and an estimated 170 others. people died elsewhere in eastern Libya.
OCHA attributed the deaths to the Libyan Red Crescent, but its spokesman Tawfiq al-Shukri rejected the figures, telling dpa: “The official figures are issued by the agency authorized by the Libyan authorities.”
In a later situation report, OCHA instead cited World Health Organization figures that 3,958 people had died and more than 9,000 were missing.
A group of Libyan data analysts and researchers also said there were about 4,000 confirmed deaths as of Saturday.
On Sunday, Othman Abdel Jalil, the health minister of the eastern government, told a news conference that 3,283 people had been buried so far.
Derna is still reeling from the aftermath of the real bomb that was created when millions of cubic meters of water burst through two neglected dams during Hurricane Daniel more than a week ago and tore through the eastern city of Libya.
The water washed away large areas of the heart of the city, home to about 100,000 people.
The oil-rich North African country is divided between two rival governments – a UN-recognized administration in the capital, Tripoli, and one based in the disaster-hit east. This makes relief efforts chaotic and accurate information difficult to obtain.
Ugochi Daniels, deputy director general for operations at the International Organization for Migration, told Al Jazeera that the latest estimate of those displaced by the floods is 46,000.
Badr Al-Din Al-Toumi, head of the Tripoli-based government’s emergency and rapid response, said 1,500 of a total of 6,142 buildings in Derna were affected by the flooding with “891 buildings completely which were destroyed, 211 buildings partially destroyed and about 398 buildings submerged in mud”.
Libyans from across the divided country are driving to the old front lines to deliver aid to Derna. Aid sent to Libya includes water, food, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, medicines and emergency surgical supplies, body bags and heavy machinery to clear the debris.
Emergency response and aid teams have been sent from France, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates with more from other countries as international officials say more are needed. .
In al-Badya, about 100km (62 miles) west of Derna, the hospital is struggling to cope with an influx of patients after being hit again by the storm.
“Due to the damage to Derna in the hospital, some cases cannot be treated, especially the critical cases of chronic diseases and the intensive care unit. They are now in a stable condition,” the hospital head Abdel Rahim Mazek, told Al Jazeera.
The al-Badya medical staff had to build makeshift dams in the streets to try to keep the water out of the hospital, but it still rose up the building, damaging the equipment on the lower level.
Greek humanitarian workers died in a road accident
Five members of a Greek humanitarian aid team sent to Libya were killed in a road accident, the Greek army said on Monday.
“Five bodies, including three officers of the Greek army and two translators from the Greek foreign ministry who were part of the aid team, will be returned to Athens on Monday,” the Greek chiefs of staff said in a statement.
Abdel Jalil said that the accident occurred when the car carrying 19 members of the Greek team collided with a car carrying a Libyan family. Three people in the family car were killed and two were seriously injured, he said.
Warnings about dams were not heeded
Information has emerged that experts have been warning for a long time about the two dams upstream from Derna, calling repeatedly to take care of them, but successive governments have not done so despite the money given for their maintenance.
The Abu Mansour and Derna dams were built by a Yugoslav construction company in the 1970s and were intended to protect the city from floods, which are not common in the area. The water collected behind the dams is used to irrigate crops.
“The two dams have not been maintained for many years despite repeated floods that have hit the city in the past,” said Saleh Emhanna, a geological researcher at the University of Ajdabia in Libya, told the news agency Agence France-Presse. “They’re broken.”
The dams suffered great damage in a hurricane in 1986, and more than a decade later, a study commissioned by the Libyan government revealed cracks and crevices in their structures, the total Libyan prosecutor, al-Sediq al-Sour, said on Friday.
A report by a state-run auditing agency in 2021 said the two dams were not maintained despite the allocation of more than $2m for that purpose in 2012 and 2013.
At a news conference in the affected city, al-Sour said prosecutors will investigate the collapse of the two dams and where the maintenance funds are.