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Aid pours into flood-stricken Libya as death toll tops 11,000

More than 11,300 have been confirmed killed in Libya’s port city of Derna after flash floods swept through the city on Sunday.
Mohamed Shalesh/Getty Images

More than three days after catastrophic floods ravaged Libya’s eastern port city of Derna, the death toll continues to rise and thousands remain missing.

On Sunday, the devastating Storm Daniel hit the coastal areas of Libya. Two dams upstream from Derna collapsed under the pressure of the water from the storm.

Survivors say a wave of more than 20 feet high wiped out entire buildings and washed people into the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the Libyan Red Crescent, 11,300 people have been killed in Derna alone. More than 10,100 remain missing, Marie el-Drese, the aid group’s secretary-general, told the Associated Press on Thursday.

As harrowing scenes of the disaster continue to emerge, domestic and global efforts are gathering pace to assist a stricken Libya.

The United Nations has pledged $10 million to support those affected by the floods. “I immediately released $10 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund and an appeal has just been released for $71.4 million aiming to help 250,000 people,” Martin Griffiths, the UN's under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, announced in a Thursday statement.

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday the release of $2 million from its emergency fund to support survivors.

Arab countries have also mobilized efforts to support the North African country. The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria have sent aircraft carrying tons of food, medical and relief supplies.

On Tuesday, Turkey sent three three planes transporting a rescue team and humanitarian aid to Libya. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced additional aid on Wednesday. In a statement on Twitter, he said his country is sending a ship with 148 medical staff to set up two field hospitals.

The United States, Britain, France and Italy also dispatched aid to Libya, including emergency funds and rescue teams.

Despite the political divisions within Libya, the Tripoli-based government sent a plane carrying 14 tons of medical supplies and health workers to Benghazi. It also allocated $412 million for the reconstruction of Derna and other eastern cities affected by the floods.

Libya has been embroiled in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country has been split between two rival administrations, one based in Tripoli and headed by Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah and another in Tobruk in the east.

The flash floods in Derna have spotlighted the poorly maintained infrastructure in Libya due to years of conflicts and divisions. The two dams in Derna were built in the 1970s, and according to the city’s mayor who spoke to Al Jazeera, no maintenance work has been carried out on them since 2002. 

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