Libya has not seen this "level of catastrophe before," according one official said
Thousands of people are feared dead after a powerful storm swept through Libya over the weekend, authorities said.
Derna, a coastal city of about 90,000 people in the northeast part of the country, was among the hardest hit by the Mediterranean storm named Daniel after two dams collapsed, sending torrents of water through the region and washing away "entire neighborhoods" into the sea, Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army, said at a news conference on Monday, according to The New York Times and CNN.
"It’s the first time we’ve been exposed to this type of weather conditions," he added, regarding the country’s preparedness at the news conference.
Although the full scope of the devastation remains unknown, as many as 10,000 people are feared to have died, reported NBC News.
Also hampering efforts is the fact that the North African nation has two rival administrations, one in the east and one in the west, CNN reported.
Leslie Mabon, lecturer in Environmental Systems at The Open University, told the Science Media Center, per CNN, that the political dichotomy poses “challenges for developing risk communication and hazard assessment strategies, coordinating rescue operations, and also potentially for maintenance of critical infrastructure such as dams.”
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Meanwhile, as authorities continue to assess the destruction and subsequent loss of life, agencies and organizations around the world are poised to help.
“I am deeply saddened by the severe impact of Hurricane Daniel on the country ... I call on all local, national, and international partners to join hands to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people in eastern Libya,” Georgette Gagnon, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Monday.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, confirmed that the UAE would be sending relief assistance and search and rescue teams to the hardest-hit area near Derna, the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency said, the Associated Press reported.
The Libyan prime minister also declared three days of national mourning and ordered that flags be flown at half-staff across the country.
“Libya was not prepared for a catastrophe like that," said Osama Aly, an Emergency and Ambulance service spokesperson, per CNN. "It has not witnessed that level of catastrophe before. We are admitting there were shortcomings even though this is the first time we face that level of catastrophe."
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