ByYOUSEF MOURAD Associated Press
September 14, 2023, 3:52 PM
DERNA, Libya — Images taken by satellite show the physical devastation from a flood that killed at least 11,300 people in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.
Two dams above Derna burst early Monday under the pressure from rain dropped by a storm. The pent-up water swept blocks of low-lying downtown Derna out to the Mediterranean Sea.
Many said they heard loud explosions as the dams exploded. A flood several meters (many feet) high rolled down a mountainside into the city.
Images made about 400 miles above the earth’s surface show that the storm left a brown layer of mud and dirt across the city.
Untold numbers are buried under mud and debris that includes overturned cars and chunks of concrete. The death toll soared to 11,300 as search efforts continue, Marie el-Drese, secretary-general of the Libyan Red Crescent, told The Associated Press by phone Thursday.
She said that an additional 10,100 had been reported missing. Health authorities previously put the death toll in Derna at 5,500.
The satellite pictures show dirt and debris stretching out to sea into Derna’s shallow waters, which appeared visibly brown near the shoreline. Many bodies washed out to sea have come back with the tide, rescue workers say.
The floods have displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration, and several thousand others were forced to leave their homes in other eastern towns, it said.
Bridges and other basic infrastructure have also been wiped out, especially buildings near the Wadi Derna river.
Because of the damage to roads, aid only began trickling into the city on Tuesday evening.