As rescue teams continued looking for bodies in the aftermath of the floods that destroyed the Libyan city of Derna, survivors on Thursday spoke of their plight and their attempts to find relatives.
Moussa Ibrahim believes many of his relatives died, several days after two dams burst above the Libyan coastal city of Derna, unleashing epic floods that wiped out neighborhoods and sent some of the dead into sea.
"The big dam of Derna collapsed, the water reached around 20 metres high while carrying mud. The floods hit buildings and courtyards killing everyone," he said.
Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding in many towns of eastern Libya. But Derna, renowned for its white villas and palm trees, was the worst-hit.
The city had no evacuation plans, and residents said the only warning was the explosive sound of the dams rupturing. The startling devastation has underscored Libya’s vulnerability.
The oil-rich country has been divided between rival administrations, each backed by competing armed militias, for almost a decade. It has been rocked by conflict since a NATO-backed Arab Spring uprising toppled autocratic ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Both governments, and their various international patrons, have banded together to help those affected.
But progress has been slow. Key bridges, roads and other infrastructure are gone.
Derna, which had a population of 90,000, largely was cut off from the world before the first aid convoys arrived late Tuesday.
The city has buried thousands of people in mass graves, Libyan officials said Thursday, and the city’s mayor said that the death toll could triple or more.
Health officials have confirmed 5,100 deaths and say 9,000 people are still missing.
As of Wednesday, at least 30,000 people were displaced by the flooding in Derna, the UN’s International Organization for Migration said.