LONDON — The body count Devastating floods in eastern Libya have surpassed 11,000, according to the Libyan Red Crescent, as rescue teams desperately try to help those who managed to survive the disaster.
The Libyan Red Crescent said on Friday that at least 11,300 people had died and another 10,100 were reported missing.
Mediterranean Storm Daniel is behind widespread flooding in the North African nation, as it swept away entire neighborhoods over the weekend and swept bodies into the sea.
The port city of Derna was the most affected after the collapse of two dams, which devastated a quarter of the area. The city has been declared a disaster area and electricity and communications have been cut off, according to local officials.
An assessment team that visited Derna on Thursday said people were desperately returning to what was left of their homes.
“What I saw there is… the situation is devastating… a lot of destruction and ruins, about 25% of the city was basically destroyed as a result of the floods,” said Talal Burnaz, acting director in Libya for the Medical Corps. International, he told ABC News.
“Whenever you see a search and rescue team, you’ll see families standing there with tears in their eyes asking for support and hoping to basically find one of their family members alive,” Burnaz said.
Burnaz said they were still pulling people out of the rubble on Thursday. He saw one rescue and heard of four more when he visited the last remaining government-run hospital in Derna. Survivors had been trapped under rubble since the early hours of Monday morning.
Some help is available through the only road that leads to the devastated areas. Burnaz saw international search and rescue teams (from Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Spain) and passed aid convoys from across Libya.
“There were many local authorities there (army, police, scouts, Libyan Red Cross) trying to recover the bodies or find survivors under the rubble,” Burnaz said.
Doctors Without Borders sent an emergency team from Misrata to Derna that arrived on Thursday to assess the needs after Storm Daniel, despite the difficult conditions in which the city was divided in two, between east and west, by the floods.
The group’s medical coordinator for Libya said the situation is chaotic and volunteers are coming from all over Libya to help, leaving a huge need for coordination.
“There are no more bodies on the streets, no wounded that we can see in the hospital,” Manoelle Carton, Doctors Without Borders’ medical coordinator for Libya, said Friday. “What is emerging again are more everyday health needs: chronic illnesses. We can clearly identify a huge need for mental health support. Everyone is asking for it, from people on the streets to doctors people assisted, from the people who saw the events to the people who lost their entire families.
Carton said the emergency team, made up of a logistician and three medical staff, began assessing the city’s primary health centers on Friday.
“We visited three health centers in the west; one is not active because almost all the medical staff died. The other two health centers are active with volunteer doctors from Tripoli, but they are asking for support, mainly for mental health. people who come downtown,” Carton said.
Carton said the situation for internally displaced people is still unclear, stating that the group identified a space in western Tripoli with around 3,000 displaced people, but that there are more refugees in the homes of friends and colleagues.
Libya’s National Meteorological Center reported that more than 16 inches of rain fell in the northeastern city of Bayda in a 24-hour period through Sunday, according to the flood monitoring website Floodlist.
Several countries have promised to send aid to Libya, but getting supplies to affected areas has proven difficult, with many roads blocked and bridges destroyed. Rescue efforts have also been hampered by the current political situation in Libya, with the oil-rich country divided between two warring governments, one in the east and the other in the west.
The head of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that most of Libya’s flood victims could have been avoided if the divided country had had a functioning weather service.
According to Burnaz, those who have lost their homes are being housed in municipal buildings such as schools and universities.
“If you see the amount of destruction and the area that’s been destroyed, it’s big. You can see cars on the third and fourth floors of the building stuck there… it was huge, like something we’ve never seen before,” Burnaz said. .
ABC News’ Will Gretsky contributed to this report.