Skip to main content

Over 8,000 dead in Morocco earthquake, Libya floods

The two natural disasters in North Africa occurred within days of one another.
Overturned cars lay among other debris caused by flash floods in Derna, eastern Libya, on Sept. 11, 2023.

The death tolls for the earthquake in Morocco and the flooding in Libya are both continuing to rise this week, surpassing 8,000 dead as the Libyan city of Derna faces unprecedented devastation and is pleading for international help.

At least 5,100 people have been recorded dead in the city of Derna, in addition to around 100 others elsewhere eastern Libya, and another 7,000 people are injured, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Up to 10,000 people are also missing, according to various reports.

The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration reported on Wednesday that 30,000 people have been displaced in Derna, in addition to thousands elsewhere.

Assessing the human toll of the flooding in Libya is difficult due to the rival administrations in the east and the capital Tripoli and communications being hindered by the storm. Around 50% of Libya also lacks internet access, according to the data analysis firm DataReportal.

Morocco’s official news agency Maghreb Arabe Press reported on Tuesday that the death toll from the earthquake reached 2,901, along with 5,530 injuries. More than half of the dead were in the central Haouz province south of Marrakesh, according to the agency

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco last Friday. Its epicenter was in the High Atlas Mountains 44 miles southwest of Marrakesh, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

On Sunday, Storm Daniel hit northeast Libya, causing severe flooding in several towns on and near the Mediterranean coast. The city of Derna was most affected amid the collapse of two dams and mudslides. A quarter of the city has been destroyed due to the flooding, according to multiple reports.

Aid proves challenging: Many of the affected areas in Libya are inaccessible to rescuers and aid workers, the International Rescue Committee said on Wednesday.

“Ambulances are in need of repair, physical access challenges and needs for logistical support are making it difficult for health volunteers to reach affected areas,” said the humanitarian organization’s Libya director, Elie Abouaoun, in a press release.

On Wednesday, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced that 700 “rooms” were en route to the outskirts of Derna to house displaced people and rescue teams. Dbeibah did not specify when the rooms would arrive, nor whether they were trailers or another structure.

Libya’s political situation is further complicating matters. The flooding occurred in parts of eastern Libya controlled by the administration of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a rival to the internationally recognized government in the capital Tripoli. The two sides fought a war that ended in 2020, but Libya remains divided along the former battle lines

The two rival administrations “both grapple with the limits of power in a country with divided governance and struggle to execute the basic functions of a state,” the US Institute of Peace said in an April report

Morocco has also faced difficulties in its recovery efforts. The International Federation of Red Cross said that the terrain near the earthquake’s epicenter hindered rescue efforts.

“Due to the blocked roads and the challenging terrain, emergency services faced,” said the organization in a Tuesday report.

Know more: Aid from regional states has started arriving to both countries. Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait Tunisia and Algeria have sent assistance to Libya, include humanitarian aid and rescue teams. Several European countries and the United States have also pledged help, according to Reuters.

Morocco, on the other hand, has only allowed rescue crews from Qatar, the UAE, Spain and the United Kingdom, denying offers from Algeria, France and others.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry said that allowing aid without proper coordination would be “counterproductive,” according to The AP.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in