Libya Floods: 10,000 Missing and Feared Dead


Ellison: Death and destruction in Libya at the hands of Mother Nature. The Red Cross now says up to 10,000 people are feared dead after a storm slammed into the country’s east, unleashing a devastating surge of flood waters that swept away entire neighborhoods, leaving nothing but wreckage in its path.

A spokesperson for the country’s Armed Forces says 5,000 to 6,000 people are missing in a single city after floodwaters broke through dams in Derna. Now bodies covered in blankets are laid out along a sidewalk outside of a medical complex. Horrific evidence of the storm’s indiscriminate brutality. This volunteer pleading for God’s protection, saying, “We are still looking for the victims. We call on all young Libyans, anyone who has a degree or any medical experience, to please come and help us.” “We do not have enough nurses,” he says. “We need help.” The exact death toll is difficult to know. The health minister for eastern Libya says that’s because they believe bodies are still trapped under the rubble. And when the floodwaters receded into the Mediterranean Sea, some bodies went with it.


Tamer: Thousands of people have lost their lives, thousands of people have lost their homes, and thousands of families are stranded or lost.

Ellison: More help is on the way. Turkey says they are sending three aircrafts carrying search and rescue teams. U.S. President Joe Biden following their lead, saying in a statement on Tuesday, “In this difficult hour, the United States is sending emergency funds to relief organizations and coordinating with the Libyan authorities and the U.N. to provide additional support.” But the people who live here have already been waiting in agony for days. Many forced to take matters into their own hands, digging graves, piling into dinghy boats searching for the bodies of their neighbors, and praying for an ounce of hope in an ocean of utter devastation.

Tom: Ellison Barber joins us now live in studio. So, Ellison, people may be thinking Libya, it hasn’t really been in the news since 2011 with the fall of Gaddafi, and they’ve had a lot of sort of civil tension, instability. How is that playing out now with this massive natural disaster?

Ellison: So it’s actually a pretty big factor because you have two primary rival governments who have, they had a ceasefire that they agreed to in 2020, but they were supposed to have elections in 2021. That didn’t happen. So you’re probably thinking, what does all that have to do with flooding? Well, when you look at something like aid coming in, it makes it incredibly complicated because the U.S. and most of the international community, the UN as well, they support and back the rival government that controls the western part of Libya. But where the worst destruction is, it’s in the eastern part. So when they’re talking about sending aid in, if they have permission from the western government, they need permission from the eastern government to then take that aid in. And historically, we have seen these two rival governments from the west and the east not be able to work together on anything at all.

Tom: And possibly 10,000 dead. That’s just so hard to wrap your head around.

Lester: Thanks for watching. Stay updated about breaking news and top stories on the NBC News app or follow us on social media.

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