As eastern Libya wakes up after a disastrous day of flooding caused by Storm Daniel, estimates of those killed and missing are rising.
Relief convoys are moving from west to east in divided Libya as the internationally recognised government in Tripoli has declared the eastern region a disaster zone and announced it would be sending help.
Tripoli Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced on Tuesday that an aid plane carrying 14 tonnes of supplies, medicine, equipment and medical personnel is headed to Benghazi to help.
Heavy rains and flooding hit an area controlled by Libya’s rival eastern administration based in Benghazi. It estimated the death toll has now reached 3,000 as more than 1,000 bodies have been retrieved in the hardest-hit Mediterranean city of Derna.
On Monday, Storm Daniel swept eastern Libya, causing two dams on the Wadi Derna river to burst and send millions of cubic metres of water downstream to inundate the river plain, hitting Derna.
Apartment blocks partially collapsed, and a seafront bridge was washed away as tonnes of water rushed to the sea.
Reporting from Tripoli on Tuesday, Al Jazeera’s Malik Traina said it is not yet known how many people are missing in this natural disaster and estimates vary from 5,000 to 10,000 people.
“Authorities have struggled to reach Derna,” Traina said, “because roads leading to the city are destroyed or cut off by flooding.” However, he added, aid has begun to reach people outside Derna.
Communications with the city have been cut off by the storm, which had made gathering information on casualties and damage difficult.
Quarter of city ‘has disappeared’
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Hani Shennib of the National Council on Libya-US Relations said: “About 4sq km [1.5sq miles] at the heart of the city have been eroded completely.”
Many patients and staff had to evacuate flooded hospitals, and many are still trapped in flooded areas, Traina said.
Tamer Ramadan, a member of an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation to Libya, expressed his concerns that dealing with the flooding is “beyond the capabilities of the government, of the national society, of the people” and that assistance from international actors would be needed.
Benghazi Minister of Civil Aviation Hichem Chkiouat managed to visit Derna and told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday: “Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings.”
The minister added: “I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 percent of the city has disappeared.”