Thursday, 28 September 2023
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Libya, before and after Cyclone Daniel: satellite images show the devastation in the most affected city

The company Maxar has collected high-resolution satellite images of September 13 of the coastal city of Derna, in northeastern Libya, after the passage of Cyclone Daniel last Sunday.

10,000 missing in Libya after Cyclone Daniel


Most of the city center has been severely damaged or completely destroyed, as well as roads and bridges, by flooding caused by torrential rains, which in turn caused two dams on the outskirts of the city to collapse. The water contained in the dams ran from the mountains to the coast through the valley of the Derna River, which runs through the city and reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

Derna (Libya)

Satellite photos before and after the storm

Derna (Libya)

Satellite photos before and after the storm

Source: Maxar

In the first image you can see a neighborhood in the city of Derna with a soccer field, which has been completely submerged by mud. In the second, the river valley appears, dry before the torrential rains, and full of mud and debris afterwards. The bridges that crossed the river were destroyed and swept away by the torrent of water, which carried away houses and vehicles, and entire families.

Derna Highway (Libya)

Satellite photos before and after the storm

Derna Dam (Libya)

Satellite photos before and after the storm

Source: Maxar

In the first image you can see the end of the Derna valley, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea, and the road that ran along the Libyan coast and which has been destroyed by the force of the water that came down that valley on the night from Sunday to Monday. The sea has been stained brown by the mud and all the remains of the buildings. In the next photo, you can see the highest dam, which was the first to give way and caused the dam to break downstream.

Residents of Derna have reported that they heard a loud bang before a river of water burst into the center of the city: it was the sound of the dam bursting due to the pressure of the large amount of rain that had fallen in a short time. Many did not have time to escape, some houses were flooded and destroyed with their inhabitants inside, only those who were on the highest floors of the buildings that resisted the onslaught of the great wave were saved.

This Thursday, the search for missing persons and bodies continues in the midst of the rubble and mud, and also in the sea waters, to where numerous people were dragged. Local authorities estimate that more than 5,000 people have died and about 30,000 are displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.

One of the problems in Derna is not only recovering the bodies of the victims, but burying them. Rescue teams cannot cope and bodies are piling up in the streets, medical centers and morgues, so the International Committee of the Red Cross has distributed 6,000 bags for the dead.

“The disaster has been violent and brutal. A seven-meter-high wave destroyed buildings and dragged infrastructure into the sea. Now, family members are missing, bodies are being returned to the coast, and houses are destroyed,” lamented the head of the Libyan delegation of that organization, Yann Fridez.

For his part, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas, has said that if Libya had “a meteorological service that operated normally, it could have issued alerts, and emergency teams could have started evacuations, thereby “They would have avoided most of the victims.”

“The problem is that the Libyan meteorological service does not work due to the chaotic situation in the country,” he said, referring to the more than ten years of armed conflict, instability and political division in Libya, since the 2011 war that ended with the dictatorship and with the life of Muammar al Gaddafi.

Precisely, the dams that collapsed are from the time of the dictator, who devised a network of water infrastructure for the oil-rich desert country.

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