Death toll from Libya floods, Morocco quake hits 8 000
About 8,000 people have died and thousands more are injured or missing in the disasters that struck the two North African nations of Morocco and Libya within days of each other. Aid efforts are being hampered by political complications.
In Libya, 5 300 people have died after the Mediterranean storm Daniel ravaged the nation’s northeastern coast over the weekend. Hardest hit was Derna, a city of 90,000, where entire neighborhoods were washed away in the deluge of water from two burst dams.
Officials in the eastern part of the divided OPEC nation said water levels had reached the fourth or fifth floors of some buildings. The search is continuing for an estimated 10,000 missing people.
The interior ministry of Libya’s eastern government told LANA, the country’s state news agency, that att least 5,300 people are thought to be dead, .
“The authorities have buried 2,800 bodies after their families identified them, while 260 unidentified bodies remain in the city’s hospital,” the ministry spokesman Tareq al-Kharraz said.
According to media reports, assistance and rescue efforts started to reach Derna on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after the disaster hit the coastal city. The floodwaters had either severely damaged or completely destroyed numerous access roads leading to the city, which is home to approximately 89,000 residents.
Some 10 000 are reported missing, Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation in Libya, said during a press conference on Tuesday.
The catastrophic event was triggered by a Mediterranean storm that made landfall in eastern Libya on Sunday, resulting in widespread flooding and causing extensive damage to infrastructure along its path.
President of the Libyan Presidency Council Mohamed Menfi on Monday called for international assistance to help with the aftermath of the flood, declaring the cities of Derna, Al-Bayda, and Shahhat areas in dire need of assistance.
Residents of the devastated Libyan city of Derna yesterday desperately searched for missing relatives and rescue workers appealed for more body bags, after a catastrophic flood that killed thousands of people and swept many out to sea.
Swathes of the Mediterranean city were obliterated by a torrent of water unleashed by a powerful storm that swept down a usually dry riverbed on Sunday night, bursting dams above the city. Multi-storey buildings collapsed with sleeping families inside.
The destruction wrought by Storm Daniel on Derna has meant the port city is effectively only accessible by sea.
It is built either side of a river valley, surrounded by hills.
“It is wedged at the base of the mountain, facing the sea – so you can only access it by two main roads,” said Libyan doctor Hani Shennib, who lives in the US but has family in Derna, .
The river is usually dry – but the raging torrent released as a result of the two dams that burst during the storm has destroyed several bridges and made roads impassable in places.
In Morocco, search teams were in places still scouring the rubble for the living. The is now well past the 72-hour window when rescues are considered most likely, yet survivors are in some cases found well beyond that period.
Rescue teams stepped up a massive effort to bring relief to devastated Moroccan mountain villages Wednesday as the chances faded fast for finding survivors from the powerful earthquake which killed 2,900 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
Vehicles packed with supplies were inching up winding mountain roads to deliver desperately needed food and tents to survivors of the nation’s deadliest quake in more than six decades.
Search teams were in places still scouring the rubble for the living. Morocco is now well past the 72-hour window when rescues are considered most likely, yet survivors are in some cases found well beyond that period.
“We’re working in a lot of places,” said Fahas Abdullah Al Dosanri of the Qatari fire department, part of the international aid effort, adding some villages still cannot be reached by road.
Moroccan authorities reported that crews were working clear unpaved tracks that have been cut off by landslides.
In the hardest-hit areas south of Marrakesh many villages in the High Atlas mountains were completely destroyed and villagers were taking shelter in yellow government-issued tents.
King Mohammed VI visited the Marrakech university hospital on Tuesday. He visited the intensive care unit and the hospitalization unit for earthquake victims.
The earthquake that occurred last Friday left more than 2,900 dead and 5,600 injured. The king, who was being monitored for his health problems in France at the time of the tragedy, returned to his country.
Last Saturday, he chaired a meeting devoted to examining the situation and aid measures for the affected populations. Among the measures adopted, the installation of field hospitals to treat the wounded in isolated areas. – Agencies