Residents of Derna in eastern Libya protested on Monday to demand accountability from the authorities after deadly floods devastated the town, according to AFP correspondents.

Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the city’s grand mosque where they chanted slogans against the eastern authorities embodied by Parliament and its leader Aguila Saleh.

“The people want the fall of Parliament”, “Aguila (Saleh) is the enemy of God”, or even “those who stole or betrayed must be hanged”, “Libya, Neither East nor West, national unity”, have -they chanted.

In a statement read during the demonstration on behalf of the “residents of Derna”, they called for “a rapid investigation and legal action against those responsible for the disaster”.

They also called for “the urgent establishment of a UN support office in Derna” and the launch of “the city’s reconstruction process and compensation for affected residents.”

The statement further demands the dissolution of the current city council and an investigation into the city’s previous budgets.

Several demonstrators headed towards a house presented as that of the city’s hated mayor, Abdulmonem al-Ghaithi, and set it on fire, shouting “the blood of martyrs is not shed in vain”, according to images widely shared on social networks and by Libyan media.

A few hours after the demonstration, the head of the executive in eastern Libya, Osama Hamad, dissolved the municipal council of Derna, against which he ordered the opening of an investigation, announced Libyan television al -Masar.

According to politicians and analysts, the chaos in Libya has relegated the maintenance of vital infrastructure to the background, such as the Derna dams, the collapse of which caused the floods that devastated the city on September 10, killing 3,338 people according to the last provisional official report communicated Monday evening by the Minister of Health of the east, Othman Abdeljalil.

Wracked by divisions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya is in fact governed by two rival administrations: one in Tripoli (west), recognized by the UN and led by Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, the other in the East, embodied by Parliament and affiliated with the camp of powerful Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar’s forces seized Derna in 2018, then a stronghold of radical Islamists and the only city in the east that escaped his control. But the eastern authorities maintain wary relations with Derna, considered a protest city since the time of Gaddafi.

The demonstration comes as rescuers are still searching for the bodies of thousands of missing people presumed to have died in the floods in this city of 100,000 inhabitants bordering the Mediterranean.

The UN announced Monday that its agencies, including the World Health Organization, are working to “prevent the spread of disease and avoid a second devastating crisis in the region”, warning of a risk coming from “water contaminated and lack of hygiene.

International humanitarian organizations and Libyan officials have warned that the final toll could be much higher due to the very large number of missing people, estimated at thousands.

In the city, bulldozers and workers tried to clear the earth from the courtyard of a mosque on Monday, amid a nauseating odor, according to an AFP journalist.

Opposite, an elderly woman prays for her children and grandchildren who perished in the disaster.

Rescuers sent by the United Arab Emirates met Monday morning at the port of Derna with their Libyan counterparts to coordinate efforts to recover bodies at sea, according to an AFP correspondent on site.

Other teams of divers sent by Russia and Turkey are active in the same sector.

Storm Daniel caused the rupture of two dams upstream and caused a flood of tsunami magnitude along the wadi which crosses the city. She took everything in her path.

Dozens of bodies are extracted daily from the rubble of neighborhoods devastated by floods or washed up by the sea and buried in an apocalyptic landscape.

An Egyptian helicopter carrier that will serve as a field hospital arrived Sunday, with relief and rescue teams on board, according to Egyptian state media.

France, which deployed a field hospital and sent rescue workers to Derna, announced on Monday that it would also allocate “4 million euros to the United Nations for emergency aid and reconstruction in Libya”.

The European Union, for its part, announced the release of 5.2 million euros for humanitarian aid in the country.

18/09/2023 21:09:15 –         Derna (Libye) (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP