Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Death in Derna: After the 9/11 Deluge

If you think there is a disaster in Derna, think again. This is not just a disaster, it is a catastrophe. A deluge has wiped out nearly 25% of the city, making the rest uninhabitable.

This is a deluge of biblical proportions, and it happened on September 11, marking the day that Libya will forever remember as its worst natural disaster in modern history.

Derna after storm Daniel
A photo from Derna on Tuesday after Storm Daniel by PIX 

Photos from Planet Live Satellite show the before and after of Derna City, and they speak for themselves about the scale of the catastrophe that Libyans have had to endure alone so far.

Derna on 2/9 and on 12/9 
Benjanim Strick and Planet 

According to the latest official numbers from Libya, over 3,000 people have died while 10,000 are missing.

Egyptians Lost in the Floods

The first batch of bodies of Egyptians who died in Derna began to cross the borders and return home on Tuesday.

The first batch was 150 Egyptians who were identified and transferred to the Tobruk Health Center's morgue in food trucks, as the morgues in Derna's hospitals had no space.

Victims of Storm Daniel in Derna
There is no space in any morgue in hospital in the city of Derna anymore 
that the dead bodies are put outside the hospitals so the family 
numbers can identify them 

The workers at the Tobruk Health Center prepared and washed the bodies according to Islamic rituals, and then they were sent back home to Egypt via the Salloum border crossing.

The 150 Egyptians included citizens of all ages, women and men. Seventy-five of the 150 came from a single village called "Sherif" in the Bani Suef governorate in Upper Egypt. Fifteen of the 75 came from a single family.

All kinds of trucks were used to transfer the bodies to Tobruk 

Six of the 150 were from a village called "Arab at Tatalyah" in the Assiut governorate, also in Upper Egypt. Four of them were also from a single family.

Two of the 150 were siblings from Nile Delta’s Kafr El-Sheikh governorate who returned to their parents dead.

Another two of the 150 came from a village called “Asmo Al Arous” in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate. One of them was preparing to get married in the upcoming vacation.

Another two men came from a village called El-Batran in Fayoum governorate.

On Tuesday evening, the Tobruk authorities announced that 84 new bodies of Egyptians were at the city's morgue and were being prepared to be transferred by air to Egypt. The 84 victims came from two streets only !!

The numbers are expected to rise. The sea began to return the bodies of the people it took during the storm.

However, the Egyptian media is not paying attention to this tragedy at all.

Aside from the undocumented migrants, I believe this is the highest number of Egyptian migrants to die in a natural disaster abroad.

According to the official numbers of the International Migration Organization (IOM) report on Egyptian Migrants in Libya (issued in 2023)about 144,543 migrants are working and living there. They represent about 21% alone of the total migrants in the country. The majority of Egyptian migrants were located in the East (47%) or the West (48%) of Libya while a minority are in the South (5%) according to the IOM.

These are the official numbers of the IOM. The unofficial numbers speak about more than 500,000 including illegal migrants.

An Egyptian military delegation led by Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Osama Askar arrived in Libya on Tuesday afternoon to coordinate with their Libyan counterparts on the assistance they can provide to those affected by the cyclone.

The delegation will work with Libyan authorities to assess the needs of the affected population and provide assistance accordingly. The Egyptian Armed Forces have already sent three military aircraft carrying medical supplies, food, and a team of 25 rescuers equipped with the necessary equipment. A fourth aircraft will be used to evacuate the injured and deceased.

Askar's visit comes after a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Egyptian Armed Forces commanders in Cairo, where they discussed the latest developments in the relief efforts in Morocco and Libya.

President el-Sisi has already announced that Egypt will hold three days of national mourning in solidarity with Morocco and Libya. However, I believe that with the number of Egyptian victims, this is no longer a mourning in solidarity. It is a mourning that is necessary.

I believe that this is the highest number of Egyptian migrants to die in a natural disaster abroad, aside from the undocumented migrants. This is a tragedy, and it is important to raise awareness of this issue.

Back to Libya, Back to Derna

The Libyan people are asking where the world is and why they are not receiving the same support and solidarity that Morocco received.

They are also asking where their two governments are. Libya has two governments that have so far failed to do the most important thing they have to do, which is to govern Libya. The two rival governments of Benghazi and Tripoli have proven to be excellent at fighting, but they have failed to govern effectively.

Derna after storm Daniel
Derna on Tuesday after the deluge 

The Libyan people are wondering how the two Libyan governments have ministries of water resources responsible for maintaining and implementing dams and reservoirs, and yet two dams in Derna collapsed.

The two ministries spent over 15 million Libyan dinars on salaries. In total, 420 million dinars were allocated to both ministries.

Do not ask how the cars reached that place

There are also ongoing accusations between the mayor of the city and the East Libya government over neglecting warnings and requests for evacuation.

According to Libyan affairs researcher Jelal Harchoaui, there are reports that the mayor of Derna asked the National Army of Khalifa Haftar for permission to evacuate the city when the storm hit, but he was denied. Instead, the army told people to stay at home.

Videos have surfaced showing that some patrols were calling on people to evacuate, but this was during the storm itself.

Here is another video showing the floods in action in the city. 

It is scary.

Derna after storm daniel
After the collapse of the Derna dams 

Either way, there are currently explicit calls for evacuating Derna and other cities in the east, especially cities located near Benghazi's Wadi Qattara Dam and Gazza Dam, which could collapse at any time and join the other two dams.

FYI, it turns out that the last time the two Derna dams had maintenance was in 2002.

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