Libya floods: A tsunami-sized flash flood swept through the Libyan port city of Derna Sunday, killing more than 11,000 people. Over 10,000 are feared missing They knew.” When hydrologist Abdul Wanis Ashour began researching the system of dams protecting the eastern Libya port town of Derna 17 years ago, the peril facing residents was already no secret, he said When I gathered the data, I found a number of problems in the Derna Valley: in the cracks present in the dams, the amount of rainfall and repeated floods,” he told Reuters I found also a number of reports warning of a disaster taking place in the Derna Valley basin if the dams were not maintained.
In an academic paper he published last year, Ashour warned that if the dams were not urgently maintained, the city faced a potential catastrophe There were warnings before that. The state knew of this well, whether through experts in the Public Water Commission or the foreign companies that came to assess the dam,” he said. “The Libyan government knew what was going on in the Derna River Valley and the danger of the situation for a very long time This week, the “catastrophe” that Ashour had warned of in the pages of the Sebha University Journal of Pure & Applied Sciences, unfolded just as he said it would
On the night of Sept. 10, the Derna Wadi, a dry riverbed most of the year, burst the dams built to hold it back when rains pour into the hills, and swept away much of the city below. Thousands of people are dead and thousands more still missingAbdulqader Mohamed Alfakhakhri, 22, said he made it to the roof of his four-storey building and was spared, watching as neighbours on their own rooftops were washed out to sea holding their phones with lights on and shaking their hands and screaming.With the bodies still being gathered from underneath flattened buildings and the seashore where they have been washing up, many Libyans are angry that warnings were ignored that could have possibly prevented the worst disaster in the country’s modern history
A lot of people are responsible for this. The dam wasn’t fixed, so now it’s a disaster,” said Alwad Alshawly, an English teacher who had spent three days burying bodies as a rescue volunteer, in an emotional video uploaded to theAuthorities tried to repair the dams above Derna as far back as 2007, when a Turkish company was awarded a contract to work on them. In his report, hydrologist Ashour cites an unpublished 2006 study from the Water Resources Ministry on “the danger of the situation.” internetSpokespeople for the government in Tripoli and the eastern administration which governs Derna did not immediately respond to requests for comment
But in 2011, Libya’s long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising and civil war, and for years after Derna was held by a succession of militant Islamist factions, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State.The Turkish company, Arsel, lists a project on its website to repair the Derna dams as having begun in 2007 and been completed in 2012. The company did not answer its phone or respond to an emailed request for comment.Omar al-Moghairbi, spokesperson for a Water Resources Ministry committee investigating the dams’ collapse, told Reuters the contractor had been unable to complete the works because of the security situation, and had not returned when requested
Even if the renovation work had been carried out, the dams would have failed, Moghairbi said, because the water level after Storm Daniel’s deluge exceeded the structure’s capacity, although the damage to Derna would not have been as severe.Two officials at Derna municipality also told Reuters work on the dams contracted before Gaddafi’s fall had been impossible to carry out afterwards because the city was occupied by Islamic State and besieged for several yearsEven after the city was recaptured by the administration running the east of the country, work did not resume.In 2021, a report by Libya’s Audit Bureau cited “inaction” by the Water Resources Ministry, saying it had failed to move forward with maintenance work on the two main dams above Derna.