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Upto 6,000 dead, thousands missing in Derna

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The death toll in the devastated Mediterranean city of Derna has reached as much as 6,000, according to some sources.

The figure is expected to rise as recovery operations continue in Libya’s devastated eastern city.

IOM Libya says at least 30,000 individuals have been displaced in Derna by storm Libyans are coming to terms with the flood damage, which is “an unprecedented catastrophe”, said Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina, reporting from Tripoli.

One child in Derna can be seen asking where his mother is, “but no one has seen her”, said Traina. Bodies washed into the sea can also be seen in the distance in the ravaged city, but it’s too dangerous to recover them for now, he also said.

Flags are flying at half-staff in Tripoli as aid from western Libya and other countries has started to pour into the east of the country.

People are blaming government negligence, Traina reports, but they are also hoping the devastation can finally unite the country’s rival politicians. The death toll from the floods has risen to 6,000, with thousands still missing, a unity Government official said.

Libya’s eastern administration said 5,300 bodies have been counted in Derna alone so far, with that number expected to rise and even double.

The sea at Derna is “constantly dumping dozens of bodies”, Hichem Chkiouat, the minister of civil aviation in the administration that runs eastern Libya, said.

He appealed for international help, saying Libya does not have the experience to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.

Massive destruction has shattered the Libyan coastal city of Derna, home to about 100,000 people, where multistorey buildings on the river banks collapsed and houses and cars vanished in the raging floodwaters.

The floods were caused by torrential rains from Storm Daniel, which made landfall in Libya on Sunday after earlier lashing Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. Derna, 250km (150 miles) east of Benghazi, is ringed by hills and bisected by what is normally a dry riverbed in summer, but which has turned into a raging torrent of mud-brown water that also swept away several major bridges.

Four major oil ports in Libya have now reopened since they were forced to shut down on Saturday due to the storm, port agent al-Omran International Maritime Agencies has said.

The eastern ports of Brega, Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf opened on Tuesday, while the port of Zueitina opened on Wednesday morning, al-Omran said.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, as the market balanced supply concerns over the port shutdowns and OPEC+ production cuts against the global economic outlook.Brega oil port is some 270km west of Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.

The dams upstream from storm-hit Derna had not been maintained for more than two decades, and the city’s infrastructure was not built to withstand this week’s devastating floods, its deputy mayor says.

“The dams have not been maintained since 2002, and they are not big,” Ahmed Madroud told Al Jazeera.According to Madroud, the first dam that failed was 70 metres (230 feet) tall. Once the water rushed past it, it accumulated behind the second dam, eventually causing it to burst.


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