A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
The backstory: Since an uprising in 2011, the North African country of Libya has been politically split, with its eastern and western regions controlled by different administrations. The eastern cities of Derna and Sirte were controlled by extremist groups until forces loyal to the eastern government liberated them in 2018. The western government, based in the capital city of Tripoli, is internationally recognized, but it doesn’t have control of the eastern areas. In this kind of situation, public services aren’t very well-coordinated, and Libya’s lack of a central government has weakened investment in infrastructure and construction regulations.
Derna is protected by dams, as the city is bisected by a seasonal river that flows from the highlands. In a research paper last year, a hydrologist from a Libyan university called for urgent maintenance on the dams, saying that repeated flooding of the area was putting Derna residents at risk.
More recently: Storm Daniel has been barrelling its way through the Mediterranean, causing extreme rain and floods in the region. So far, the storm has wreaked havoc in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.
The development: Over the weekend, extremely heavy rainfall from Storm Daniel contributed to massive flooding in northeastern Libya. The rain triggered the collapse of two dams near the city of Derna, aid agencies said on Tuesday. All of the rain caused rivers to overflow, and they ended up sweeping away entire homes and other buildings in flash floods, making roads inaccessible. Entire neighborhoods and families were dragged into the sea all at once. According to a government spokesperson, at least 5,000 people are dead in the city of Derna alone, and reports on the ground say that around 10,000 people are still missing. The death toll is expected to keep rising.
Western countries have sent aid to help with the disaster, and the US Embassy in Libya said it was talking to the UN and Libyan authorities to figure out the best way to support the most affected areas. So far, it seems like the different authorities in Libya were trying to work together to respond to the catastrophe, with rescue workers sent by the government in Tripoli as well as others sent by Turkey and the UAE arriving on Tuesday.
"If a huge flood happens, the result will be catastrophic for the people of the wadi and the city," said a research paper released last year by hydrologist Abdelwanees A. R. Ashoor of Libya's Omar Al-Mukhtar University.
"We can confirm from our independent sources of information that the number of missing people is hitting 10,000 so far," said Tamer Ramadan, head of a delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
"We are not speaking about one or two people dead, but up to 10 members of each family dead,” said Walid Abdulati, a family member of victims, to Reuters.
"I am deeply saddened by the severe impact of (storm) Daniel on the country ... I call on all local, national, and international partners to join hands to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people in eastern Libya," Georgette Gagnon, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya, posted on X.