Destruction in Derna: how floods ravaged Libyan port city

What do we know about the flooding?

Parts of eastern Libya has been hit by devastating flooding in recent days after storm Daniel pounded the country’s Mediterranean coast. As of Tuesday afternoon the toll had been put at 5,200 dead and 8,000 injured or missing, the majority in the port city of Derna, from where apocalyptic footage has emerged of widespread damage:

Derna floods footage

This footage shows inundated farmland south of the city:

Flood farmland near Derna.

Why was Derna so badly hit?

The city with a population of 90,000 is bisected by the Wadi Derna, a seasonal river that flows from highlands to the south, and normally protected from flooding by dams.

This map and satellite image from before the floods show the topographical landscape south of Derna.

Topographical map of Derna and surrounding area
A satellite view of dams south of Derna on 7 September.
Photograph: European Union/Copernicus Sentinel-2/Reuters

On Sunday night two dams collapsed, unleashing raging waters that swept away residential neighbourhoods on both banks of the river.

A burst dam outside Derna.
People look at the damage caused by floods in Derna.
People look at the damage caused by floods in Derna. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
A residential building damaged by the floods.
A residential building damaged by the floods. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
People check an area damaged by floods.
People check an area damaged by floods. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Where else was hit?

Other badly affected areas included the town of Bayda, where about 50 people were reported dead, as well as the towns of Shahatt and Marj, where images from before and after the floods lay bay their extent:

Marj before and after

In Susa, about 47 miles west of Derna, footage showed cars piled up on each other:

Footage of cars in Susa

Is Libya equipped to deal with the devastation?

The collapse of the two dams on Wadi Derna underscored the weakness of Libya’s infrastructure after more than a decade of chaos. The oil-rich nation remains divided between two rival administrations: one in the east and one in the west, each backed by different militias and foreign governments.

Which other countries have been affected by Storm Daniel?

The storm killed at least 27 people when it struck parts of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey last week before moving south.

Storm Daniel map

Footage from Greece showed cars being swept into the sea and sinkholes opening in roads.

Days of torrential rain lashed the centre of the country, triggering landslides and causing widespread destruction:

Greece: residents rescued in helicopters after severe floods – video

The Guardian

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