230+ Sudanese die as ‘entire communities swept away’ in Libya floods

The coastal city of Derna in Libya in the aftermath of the devastating floods (Abdulsalam Alturki / UNICEF)

At least 231 Sudanese people were reportedly killed by floods that struck the Libyan city of Derna on September 4, after Storm Daniel resulted in two dams bursting. Mutaz Mirghani, a prominent member of Derna’s Sudanese community, told Radio Dabanga that 700 Sudanese families lost their shelter and a large number are reported as missing, as entire neighbourhoods were washed away.

Libyan authorities limited access to Derna on Friday to facilitate searching for victims. 10,000 people are still missing and presumed dead following the disaster that has already claimed more than thousands of lives. An estimated 20 per cent of the residents of Derna’s eastern part are believed to either be dead or missing, and officials fear the death toll could rise to 20,000.

Mirghani described the conditions of Derna’s Sudanese community as “catastrophic”, and called on the Sudanese government to send medical teams and relief materials.

“Despite Sudan’s current circumstances, we call on the government to send health support, convoys, and rescue teams,” he continued.

He states that Libya’s Sudanese Consulate is closely following the conditions of the Sudanese: “many are now residing either in Sudanese community buildings or in homes”.

Yousra Elbagir, the Sudanese journalist and Sky News Africa correspondent, reported that meteorological surveys warned the government of the risk of flash floods, she said.

Scientists warned the Libyan government over the threat of flash floods, but they refused to evacuate residents. “There were definitely warnings from scientists saying we need to look at the risk of floods but the government… refused to evacuate civilians,” she said.

This is a developing story.