On September 10, the storm reached the eastern coast of Libya, hitting the metropolis of Benghazi before heading east towards several cities like Al-Bayda, but especially Derna, which had 100,000 inhabitants before the tragedy . On the night of September 10-11, the two dams on Wadi Derna, which hold back the waters of the wadi that runs through the city, failed. Powerful torrents destroyed bridges and swept away entire neighborhoods with their inhabitants on both sides of the wadi, before flowing into the Mediterranean.

The total number of victims announced by authorities in the east of the North African country where two rival governments are vying for power varies according to officials. On Saturday, the Minister of Health of the eastern Libyan administration, Othman Abdeljalil, reported a death toll of 3,166. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the bodies of 3,958 people have been found and identified,” while another 9,000 people remain missing. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported at least 30,000 people displaced in Derna, as well as 3,000 in Al-Bayda and more than 2,000 in Benghazi, towns further west. The Red Crescent cites a toll of 11,000 dead and 10,000 missing.

Dilapidated infrastructure, construction in violation of urban planning rules over the last decade and a lack of preparation for this type of disaster have transformed Derna into an open-air cemetery, according to experts. Most of the deaths “could have been avoided,” said Petteri Taalas, head of the World Meteorological Organization which depends on the UN, on Thursday. Years of conflict in Libya have “largely destroyed the weather observation network,” as have the computer systems, he said.

The two dams at the origin of the disaster had cracks since 1998, said Saturday the Libyan Attorney General, Al-Seddik al-Sour, who opened an investigation. Work was started in 2010 by a Turkish company after years of delays, but suspended a few months later in the wake of the Libyan revolution of 2011, and it has never resumed since, according to the prosecutor.

Libya has indeed been plunged into chaos since the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with two rival governments, one recognized by the UN based in the capital Tripoli, in the west, the other in the eastern region. affected by floods.

The international aid promised at the start of the disaster is arriving and being organized. Two planes loaded with aid, one from the United Arab Emirates, the other from Iran, landed in Benghazi, noted an AFP journalist. The WHO announced that 29 tons of medical equipment had arrived in Benghazi, about 300 kilometers from Derna.

Finland, Germany and Romania sent aid. Neighboring Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait also sent planes carrying aid. Algeria, France, Italy, Qatar, Tunisia and the United States have also offered help. The United Nations has launched an appeal for more than $71 million to help hundreds of thousands of people in need.

Huge floods in Libya follow a “medicane,” a rare but destructive weather phenomenon that scientists believe will intensify in a warming world. This term, little known to the general public, but regularly used by scientists and meteorologists, is a portmanteau made up of the words “Mediterranean” and “hurricane” (“hurricane” in English).

In addition to their strong winds, “medicanes” are also accompanied by torrential rains. Storm Daniel dumped up to 170 millimeters of water in less than two days on Cyrenaica, in northeastern Libya, where rain is very rare this season.

Surface waters in the eastern Mediterranean and Atlantic are two to three degrees Celsius higher than usual in early September, which may have given a boost to Storm Daniel, scientists say.