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UN warns of disease threat in flood-ravaged east Libya

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  • Post category:Environment
  • Post last modified:18/09/2023
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DERNA (Libya): The UN on Monday warned that disease outbreaks could bring “a second devastating crisis” to Libya a week after a massive flash flood devastated the coastal city of Derna, sweeping thousands to their deaths.

Local officials, aid agencies and the World Health Organization “are concerned about the risk of disease outbreak, particularly from contaminated water and the lack of sanitation”, the United Nations said.
The flash flood that has killed nearly 3,300 people and left thousands more missing came as the war-scarred North African country was lashed by the hurricane-strength Storm Daniel on September 10.
Tens of thousands of traumatised residents are now homeless and badly in need of clean water, food and basic supplies amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition, UN agencies have warned.
As rescue teams from several European and Arab countries kept up the grim search for bodies in the mud-caked wasteland of smashed buildings, crushed cars and uprooted trees, Derna survivors recounted the horror of the events.
“I took nothing but my glasses and phone and fled while water was shaking the iron doors like an earthquake,” the Abdel Moneim Awad al-Sheikh, 73, who was awakened in the pre-dawn hours by the sound of screams and rushing water.
He escaped with his wife by climbing up from his first floor apartment to the roof of the building with other family members.

– Bodies and disease –

Mohamed Abdelhafiz, a 50-year-old Lebanese man who has lived in Derna for decades, recalled that he “saw death”.
“This whole area, from my house to the wadi (dry riverbed), had three or four buildings. Now, there is nothing. The ground is just mud, as though there never were any buildings here.”
Amid the chaos, the true death toll remained unknown, with untold numbers swept into the sea.


M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.

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