More than 2,300 people have been confirmed dead and thousands more are missing after heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides in eastern Libya, officials said on Wednesday.
The floods, which began on Monday, have affected several towns and villages in the Cyrenaica region, including Benghazi, Derna, Tobruk and Al Bayda. The Libyan Red Crescent said it was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.
According to the National Center for Meteorology, the rainfall in some areas exceeded 200 millimeters in 24 hours, which is more than the average annual rainfall in Libya. The center said the floods were caused by a rare weather phenomenon known as a “medicane”, a Mediterranean hurricane that forms over warm sea waters.
The Libyan government declared a state of emergency and mobilized rescue teams and humanitarian aid to the affected areas. Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah visited Benghazi on Tuesday and expressed his condolences to the victims’ families. He also vowed to allocate funds for reconstruction and compensation.
The United Nations and several countries, including Turkey, Egypt, Italy and France, have offered their assistance and solidarity to Libya. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was working with local authorities and partners to provide emergency relief, such as food, water, shelter and health care.