Libya Floods: What we know so far

The low-lying areas of Derna near the sea have been worst affected.[BBC]

On Saturday night of September 9, residents of the city of Derna in Libya were woken up by a large bang that was followed by floods that has so far claimed more than 5,000 people.

The floods which were caused by Storm Daniel, the deadliest Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone, hit two dams weighing 1.5 million tonnes causing water to flow down the city of Darn washing away people into the Mediterranean Sea.

According to sources, the upper dam was overwhelmed by water causing it to burst as a result, water accumulated behind the second dam causing it too, to burst.

Affected cities

The floods have affected several cities with the worst-hit city being Derna which lies a few hundred meters away from the dams.

Other cities affected include Albayda, Soussa, Al-Marj, Shahat, Taknis, Battah, Tolmeita, Bersis, Tokra, and Al-Abyar.

So far, at least 10,000 people have been reported missing while tens of thousands more have been displaced.

However, Derna’s mayor, Abdulmenam Al-Ghaithi estimates that 20,000 people might have been dead.

According to United Nation's meteorological branch in Libya, the casualties could have been avoided if the warning systems in the country had been functional.

"If they would have been a normally operating meteorological service, they could have issued warnings," World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

Taalas said the WMO had previously attempted to assist Libyan authorities with reforming the meteorological system, but their efforts were hampered by security threats.

"Since the security situation in the country is so difficult, it's difficult to go there and improve the situation," he said.

Water Engineering experts say that the dams are likely to have been made from dumped and compacted soil or rocks, which is not as strong as concrete and more vulnerable to collapse when overfilled.

Currently, search and rescue efforts are ongoing as various countries in the world have sent their troops to Libya for the rescue mission.