Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


‘Dam of death’: Libya survivors had just minutes to escape tsunami-like torrent

The sheer numbers of people dead or unaccounted for in the Libyan city of Derna is overwhelming survivors, who say they had minutes to get away before the coastal city was devastated by a tsunami-like torrent.

Sky News TV crews have reached the port city where people have been using their bare hands to dig for loved ones.

Reports suggest almost a quarter of the city has been washed away, following a massive flood fed by the breaching of two dams in heavy rains.

An aerial view of the Libyan city of Derna

Sky’s Africa correspondent Yousra Elbagir, reporting from one of the dams that collapsed, said it is now known as “the dam of death”.


She said though it has been days since the disaster struck, residents are still in a complete state of shock – with some survivors coming to the site to look at the catastrophic scale of the tragedy the dam unleashed on them in a matter of moments.

“The flood has completely changed their lives. One person told me: ‘This is not a natural disaster, this is a catastrophe’,” she said.

Libya floods – latest updates: Desperate search for survivors continues amid devastation

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Derna’s ‘dam of death’

Untold numbers could be buried under drifts of mud and debris across the city, including overturned cars and chunks of concrete, metres high.

Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford, reporting from the centre of Derna, near the port, said the eastern Libyan city was like “one big graveyard” – a mass of wrecked lives, flattened buildings and upended vehicles.

Vast multi-storey buildings have been ripped off their foundations and smothered by volumes of mud.

“Everywhere you look here – it’s 360° destruction,” she said. “There is a strong smell in the air of corpses.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Utter devastation around here’

“The force of the water was so strong from the two dams which collapsed that the locals say it sounded like an explosion, after explosion, after explosion,” said Crawford.

“Massive tonnes of rocks, whole apartment blocks, just swept away. There are three bridges that have been swept away. Building after building has been levelled or smashed through.

“They had – according to those who survived – about 20 minutes to get out of the away of this torrent of water.”

She added: “As we walk through the mountains of rubble, boulders and rocks, we have to keep reminding ourselves these were once people’s homes, this was once a street packed with shops and malls. Even the road is non existent.

“There is no sign of any significant international aid here at all. There is very little evidence of any Libyan aid workers.”

Damaged areas and buildings, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya
Entire neighbourhoods have been washed away

A UN official has said most casualties could have been avoided.

“If there would have been a normal operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings,” World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) head Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

“The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out the evacuation.”

Read more:
Warning over shortage of body bags as fears of disease rise in Derna
Libya floods expose corruption, lack of international support and thousands of dead bodies

Daniel, an unusually strong Mediterranean storm, caused deadly flooding in towns across eastern Libya, but the worst-hit was Derna.

Those in the region are calling it a disaster of “biblical proportions” – with the number of fatalities soaring to 11,300, according to the Libyan Red Crescent.

Though the number killed is still not known.

Derna has been the worst-affected in the country by the floods

Marie el-Drese, secretary-general of the aid group, said a further 10,100 people have been reported missing in the Mediterranean city.

Morgues are full in hospitals and are overwhelmed as people race to bury the dead.

Most of the dead have been buried in mass graves outside Derna, while others are being transferred to nearby towns and cities.

Read more:
Before and after pictures show devastation of Libya floods
What caused sheer scale of death and destruction in flooded Libyan city?

The flooding swept away entire families on Sunday night and exposed vulnerabilities in the oil-rich country, which has been mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The storm caused significant damage to infrastructure and has made it difficult for rescuers and humanitarian groups to reach stricken areas.


Latest Tweets

London Globe

Calls for EU to investigate Russian payments to Maltese dentist.… #news #


You May Also Like

United Kingdom

Film director Ridley Scott has recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed while making the Oscar winning blockbuster Gladiator. Scott said hard-drinking Reed “just...


The controversial Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, well-known for his years-long counterstanding with his wealthy sister Elena, widow of Moscow ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is likely...

European Union

KAPIKULE, TURKEY, May 24th, 9:00 GMT]- Over 100 members of The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a persecuted religious minority, who have presented...

United Kingdom

The Watneys Party Seven is making a comeback. The ubiquitous 70s beer was a bland fizzing bitter ridiculed by many. The drink’s insipidness helped...