What is happening in Libya
On Sunday, September 10th a severe storm, known as Storm Daniel, hit the north-east coast of Libya. It brought over 400mm of rain in 24 hours, in a region that typically only receives 1.5mm rain in the whole of September. The rainfall caused two dams to burst on the normally dry Wadi Derna riverbed. As a result, a torrent of water overwhelmed the city of Derna, entirely washing away several neighbourhoods.
It is feared that over 20,000 people have died. Rescue operations are still underway. The UN also estimates that over 30,000 people have been displaced by the disaster.
ShelterBox will be responding in Libya, in partnership with ACTED, to support people whose homes have been severely damaged or washed away by flood waters.
A ShelterBox response team is deploying to neighbouring Tunisia this week to meet with our partners to confirm what is needed and what aid we’ll provide together. We have partnered with ACTED before – including in Libya in 2011 and most recently in Nigeria (2021) and Moldova (2022).
Your support today will help people affected by the flooding in Libya and other disasters around the world. We believe we can have the most impact for communities by staying flexible. It allows us to restock our warehouses, ready for the next disaster, and provide support to people affected by extreme weather, conflict, and climate crises around the world.
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The north-east coast of Libya was affected by extremely heavy rainfall. This brought flash flooding in several cities and communities in this area of the country.
The city of Derna has been particularly badly affected as the rainfall caused two dams to burst. As a result the city was engulfed in a torrent of water that has been compared to a tsunami due to its suddenness and strength.
Storm Daniel reached Libya on Sunday 10th September 2023. The heavy rainfall caused two dams to burst in the city of Derna that night.
Due to the amount of damage to infrastructure, full details of the amount of devastation and loss of life are still emerging.
The flooding was caused by Storm Daniel. This was a type of storm known as a medicane – a severe storm on the Mediterrean compared to a hurricane. Storm Daniel formed in Greece and caused record breaking rainfall there on 5th and 6th September. It then moved south towards Libya.
Storm Daniel caused over 400mm of rain to fall on north-east Libya in 24 hours. That’s over 200 times more rain than this area would expect to get in the entire month in September. The rain caused flash flooding and mudslides.
Communities along the north-east coast of Libya have been affected by flooding and mudslides. The city of Derna has been particularly badly hit as the rainfall caused two dams in a normally dry riverbed through the city to burst.
This unleashed a torrent of water which engulfed swathes of the city. Onlookers described the water as being like a tsunami. Scientists have estimated that millions of tons of water would have been released, capable of sweeping away people, vehicles and buildings in its path.
The scale of the impact is still coming to light as a lot of infrastructure was also damaged in the flooding. The Mayor of Derna has estimated that 20,000 people have been killed.
As well as the staggering loss of life, the UN also estimate that 30,000 people have been displaced. As such they will lack basic necessities such as food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
Storm Daniel cannot be specifically linked to climate change. However many scientists believe that the climate crisis is making severe storms more likely.
As such it is possible that we will see more devastating storms as our planet continues to warm up. You can learn more about the link between disasters and climate change here.
Extreme weather events such as Storm Daniel are a part of the world’s climate. However, it is the decisions that humans make that can decide whether such an event becomes in a disaster.
In the case of Libya, some are pointing to the political turmoil in the country as a factor in the scale of the devastation from the floods. Since the fall of Col Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 the country has been split into two rival governments, and fighting has been taking place between militias. As a result the focus has not been on maintaining infrastructure. A government official for East Libya has said they had not been able to maintain one of the dams that burst at Derna. And reports suggest that experts raised concerns over the dam in 2011, but nothing had been done. In addition, advice to people regarding the approaching storm was confused, with many told to remain in their homes.
The devastating flooding in Libya is another example of how disasters are not natural. Learn more here.
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