Libyan authorities said more than 2,000 people died and 10,000 have been reported missing after floodwaters caused massive damage in the eastern part of the country.
Othman Abduljaleel, health minister for eastern Libya, told The Associated Press at least 700 of the recovered bodies from the natural disaster had been buried.
The city of Derna’s ambulance authority confirmed the death total has risen to 2,300.
Tamer Ramadan, a Libyan envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said at a U.N. briefing that the death total will likely rise, noting at least 10,000 residents are still missing in the area.
Abduljaleel also told The Associated Press that authorities believe bodies were trapped under rubble or washed away into the Mediterranean Sea.
“We were stunned by the amount of destruction … the tragedy is very significant, and beyond the capacity of Derna and the government,” Abduljaleel told the AP.
The latest update comes after Mediterranean storm Daniel passed through the eastern part of the country Sunday, bringing massive amounts of rainfall that caused destruction to the dams outside Derna.
The breakage of the dam unleashed flash floods down Wadi Derna, a river running from the mountains through the city and into the sea.
Videos posted online by residents showed the damage the flooding caused, including the destruction of residential neighborhoods on both banks of the river, collapsed multistory apartment buildings and destroyed vehicles on top of each other.
Libyan authorities were also unable to reach Derna, a city of 90,000 residents, until Tuesday because of the flooding damage. Local authorities and rescue crews are searching for and attempting to retrieve bodies.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, U.S. Special Envoy for Libya Richard Norland said he issued an official declaration of humanitarian need in the country, saying the declaration “will authorize initial funding that the United States will provide in support of relief efforts in Libya.”
The Associated Press contributed.
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