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Over 6,000 bodies recovered after Libya flood

Premium Times

Over 6,000 bodies have so far been recovered from the devastating floods in Libya, according to the country’s government.

People are racing to bury their dead as bodies pile up in the streets of Derna, the northern coastal city devastated by flooding after a torrential downpour smashed through two dams.

A further 10,000 remain missing after entire neighbourhoods in Derna were washed into the sea, CNN reports. Rescue teams are spread through the city and along the coast, searching for those who were either pulled out to sea or trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Local morgues are completely full, yet they remain the only part of many hospitals which are operational, as the country suffers from a severe lack of resources.

The significant damage to infrastructure in the region has made some regions inaccessible to humanitarian groups. Only two out of the seven entry points to Derna are currently available.

Emergency teams are searching through piles of debris for survivors and bodies as officials attempt to honour Islamic beliefs that the dead should receive burial rites within three days.

“The Martyrs’ Committee (has been set up to) identify the missing people and to implement procedures for identifying and burial in accordance with Sharia and legal laws and standards,” said Libya’s Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Adel Juma.

The storm took out communications, frustrating rescue efforts and causing anxiety among family members outside Libya who are waiting for news of missing loved ones.

Storm Daniel looks to have created one of the deadliest floods on record in North Africa.

The very strong low-pressure system moved into the Mediterranean before developing into a tropical-like cyclone and crossing the Libyan coast. Daniel also brought unprecedented flooding to Greece last week, where the death toll was much lower.

Already, humanitarian aid, including food and medical supplies, clothing and tents have been sent to Libya from countries like Tunisia, Italy, Turkey and Algeria.

European Union member states including Germany, Romania and Finland have offered tents, field beds and blankets, 80 generators and food items, as well as hospital tents and water tanks via the bloc’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

The EU also released an initial €500,000 (around R10-million) in humanitarian funding, after Libyan authorities called for international aid.

United Arab Emirates President Zayed Al Nahyan has also directed aid and search and rescue teams to be sent to Libya while offering his condolences to those affected by the catastrophe, the state news agency reported.