CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Mediterranean storm Daniel caused devastating floods in Libya that swept away entire neighborhoods and wrecked homes in multiple coastal towns in the east of the North African nation. As many as 2,000 people were feared dead, one of the country’s leaders said Monday.
The destruction appears greatest in Derna, a city formerly held by Islamic extremists in the chaos that has gripped Libya for more than a decade and left it with crumbling and inadequate infrastructure. Libya remains divided between two rival administrations, one in the east and one in the west, each backed by militias and foreign governments.
The confirmed death toll from the weekend flooding stood at 61, as of late Monday, according to health authorities. But the tally did not include Derna, which had become inaccessible. Many feared that many of the missing, believed to be in the thousands, were also carried away by the waters.
Video by residents of the city posted online showed major devastation. Entire residential areas were erased along a river that runs down from the mountains through the city center. Multi-story apartment buildings that once stood well back from the river were partially collapsed into the mud.
In a phone interview with al-Masar television station Monday, Prime Minister Ossama Hamad of the east Libyan government said that 2,000 were feared dead in Derna, and thousands were believed missing. He said Derna has been declared a disaster zone.