Devastating flooding caused by Storm Daniel has left over 2,000 people feared dead in Libya’s eastern regions. The president of Libya’s eastern parliament-backed administration, Osama Hamad, confirmed the death toll, describing the situation as “catastrophic and unprecedented.” Videos on social media depict submerged cars, collapsed buildings, and torrents of water sweeping through streets. The storm has caused the disappearance of residential neighborhoods, with thousands of residents swept into the sea. The city of Derna is reported to be “cut off completely” due to the bursting of two old dams.
The flooding resulted from the remnants of a powerful low-pressure system, named Storm Daniel, which caused severe flooding in Greece before evolving into a tropical-like cyclone known as a medicane in the Mediterranean. Essam Abu Zeriba, the interior minister of the east Libya government, described the situation as tragic. Reports suggest that up to 10,000 people are missing, with an estimated 2,000 feared dead in Derna alone. Health authorities have already buried 700 people in the city.
Tamer Ramadan, a Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated that the death toll is expected to reach well into the thousands in the coming days.
Storm Daniel’s exceptional strength resulted from its transformation into a “Medicane” (Mediterranean hurricane) after stalling in the Mediterranean Sea. These systems form when storms feed off warm Mediterranean waters and can acquire hurricane-like characteristics. The rainfall from this storm was described as extreme, with floodwaters reaching up to three meters in some areas.
The impact of Storm Daniel in Libya’s eastern regions has been nothing short of catastrophic.
The storm’s transformation into a medicane, or Mediterranean hurricane, is a rare and dangerous occurrence. Medicane formation typically involves a low-pressure system intensifying over the warm Mediterranean waters, acquiring characteristics similar to a hurricane, including an eye-like structure and swirling clouds.
The amount of rainfall that accompanied Storm Daniel’s passage was extreme, with some areas experiencing floodwater levels as high as three meters. This deluge overwhelmed dams and infrastructure, leading to the widespread destruction of neighborhoods and buildings. The situation became even more dire as rivers burst their banks and cascading floodwaters swallowed entire communities along the coast.
Libya’s eastern city of Derna has borne the brunt of this disaster, with thousands feared dead and many more missing. Health authorities are grappling with the overwhelming task of managing the deceased and providing aid to the affected population. The magnitude of this natural disaster has stretched resources and capacities, making it one of the deadliest weather-related events in Libya’s recent history.
The consequences of Storm Daniel extend beyond the immediate loss of life and property. The displaced survivors are now grappling with displacement, loss of livelihoods, and the daunting task of rebuilding their shattered communities. The international community and humanitarian organizations are mobilizing to provide support, but the road to recovery will be long and arduous for the survivors of this devastating storm.