Swept away by the Libya 'tsunami': How streets went from calm to catastrophe in just 25 seconds as storm water from burst dams tore through cities leaving up to 20,000 dead

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  • Reading time:4 min(s) read

  • Calm conditions are seen but after 25 seconds a slew of vehicles are swept away
  • It comes as officials warned that the death toll could reach 20,000

Terrifying video shows how the streets of Libya ‘turned into a river’ in a matter of seconds amid Storm Daniel. 

The footage, believed to have been taken in Derna on Monday, shows floodwater pouring down the road before roughly 20 cars and a slew of debris are swept away in the chaos.

Calm conditions are seen at the beginning of the clip, but after just 25 seconds the horde of vehicles comes clattering down the road.  

It came as officials warned yesterday that the death toll from the floods disaster could reach 20,000.

Thousands of victims have already been buried in mass graves in the port city of Derna, amid claims many could have been saved with better warning systems.

Map shows the flood damage extent in Derna, Libya. The Libyan Red Crescent last night said the death toll in the city has soared to 11,300, with hundreds more confirmed dead across eastern Libya

Map shows the flood damage extent in Derna, Libya. The Libyan Red Crescent last night said the death toll in the city has soared to 11,300, with hundreds more confirmed dead across eastern Libya

Search and rescue operations continue in the region affected by flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

Search and rescue operations continue in the region affected by flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

The footage, believed to have been taken in Derna, shows floodwater pouring down the road before roughly 20 cars and a slew of debris are swept away in the chaos

The footage, believed to have been taken in Derna, shows floodwater pouring down the road before roughly 20 cars and a slew of debris are swept away in the chaos

The Libyan Red Crescent last night said the death toll in the city has soared to 11,300, with hundreds more confirmed dead across eastern Libya.

Search teams are continuing to scour the area after Storm Daniel caused devastating floods in many eastern towns on Sunday night.

Derna residents said they heard loud explosions as two dams on the city’s outskirts collapsed. Floodwaters then washed down Wadi Derna, a valley that cuts through the city, crumbling buildings and washing people out to sea.

Thousands of people remain missing, said Ossama Ali, a spokesman for an ambulance centre in eastern Libya. The mayor of Derna Abdel Moneim al-Ghaithi said the final tally in the city could hit 20,000, given the number of neighbourhoods that were washed away.

A view of buildings damaged in the flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

A view of buildings damaged in the flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

Search and rescue operations continue in the region affected by flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

Search and rescue operations continue in the region affected by flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

Petteri Taalas, head of the UN's World Meteorological Organization, said that with proper early warning and emergency management systems, authorities 'could have avoided most of the human casualties'

Petteri Taalas, head of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, said that with proper early warning and emergency management systems, authorities ‘could have avoided most of the human casualties’

A view of cars damaged in the flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

A view of cars damaged in the flood due to Storm Daniel in Derna, Libya on September 14

Petteri Taalas, head of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, said that with proper early warning and emergency management systems, authorities ‘could have avoided most of the human casualties’. He said institutions were ‘not functioning normally’, with efforts to help reform Libya’s meteorological system hampered by security threats.

Libya is divided by rival governments – one in the east, the other in the west – and one result has been neglect of infrastructure. The dams that collapsed, built in the 1970s, have not been maintained for years, local media reported.

The floods have displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna, according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration, with several thousand others forced to leave their homes in other eastern towns.

More than 3,000 bodies were buried by yesterday morning, said eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel, while another 2,000 were still being processed. He said most of the dead were buried in mass graves outside Derna.

Other areas hit included the towns of Bayda, Susa, Um Razaz and Marj, killing around 170. The dead in eastern Libya included at least 84 Egyptians – more than 70 of them coming from one village in the province of Beni Suef, south of Cairo.

Libyan media also said dozens of Sudanese migrants were killed in the disaster.




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