A week after Libya flood, aid effort gains pace

DERNA, Libya: A week after a tsunami-sized flash flood devastated the Libyan coastal city of Derna, sweeping thousands to their deaths, the international aid effort to help the grieving survivors slowly gathered pace on Sunday.

Search-and-rescue teams wearing face masks and protective suits kept up the grim search for bodies or any survivors in the mud-caked wasteland of smashed buildings, crushed cars and uprooted trees.

Traumatised residents, 30,000 of whom are now homeless in Derna alone, badly need clean water, food, shelter and basic supplies amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition, UN agencies warn. “In this city, every single family has been affected,” said one resident, Mohammad al-Dawali.

Another, Mohamed al-Zawi, 25, recounted how he saw “a large mountain of water bringing with it cars, people, belongings… and pouring everything out into the sea”. Emergency response teams and aid have been deployed from France, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, with more on the way from other nations.

The aid effort has been hampered by the political division of Libya, which plunged into years of war and chaos after a 2011 Nato-backed uprising led to the overthrow and killing of veteran dictator Moamer Qadhafi. The oil-rich North African country now remains split between two rival governments — a UN-backed administration in the capital Tripoli, and one based in the disaster-hit east.

The International Organization of Migration´s Libya chief Tauhid Pasha posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the aim now was to channel all authorities “to work together, in coordination”.

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