In Derna, Bodies in the Sea, Others in Mass Graves

Death toll in wake of storm Daniel stands at 5.3K
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2023 8:42 AM CDT
In Libya, 'Many of the Faces Are Beyond Recognition'
Workers bury the bodies of victims of recent flooding caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel near the city of Derna, Libya, late Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Thousands of bodies have been recovered in the days since the storm hit, and many more are still missing, particularly in the worst-hit city of Derna,...   (AP Photo/Yousef Murad)

The "sea is constantly dumping dozens of bodies," said a government official of the scene in Derna, Libya, where one estimate now puts the number of potential dead at up to 20,000, reports the Guardian. The Wall Street Journal gives a lower estimate of 6,000, though it notes as many as 10,000 people remain missing in the wake of Mediterranean storm Daniel, which triggered floodwaters that broke two dams and washed away entire buildings. The official death toll stood at 5,300 as of Tuesday night. Whatever the final count, "The human toll is enormous," said Yann Fridez, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya. "The city of Derna was submerged by waves [23 feet] high that destroyed everything in their path."

"Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children," an aid worker from Benghazi tells the AP. "Entire families were lost." The Guardian reports there are so many bodies to deal with that hundreds have been put in a mass grave. Getting aid to the area is a complex undertaking: The AP describes the coastal city as sitting on a narrow coastal plain under steep mountains. It can only be accessed using two roads that remain, and both require first passing through a challenging route in the mountains.

The Journal reports that as Libya mourns, so too does neighboring Egypt, where locals have been drawn to jobs across the border for decades. At least 74 Egyptians are confirmed dead, with another 1,500 missing. "We have been begging the authorities to give us permits to bury them for hours and they are telling us they have to be identified first. But many of the faces are beyond recognition. They have been in the water for over a day," said one Egyptian. (More Libya stories.)

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