Catastrophic flooding has killed up to 20,000 people in Derna, Libya •

Catastrophic flooding has killed up to 20,000 people in Derna, Libya

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory  features a torrential rainstorm as it made landfall in northeastern Libya on September 10, 2023. 

The low-pressure storm has caused catastrophic devastation along the Mediterranean coast, particularly in the port city of Derna, where up to 20,000 people are feared dead.

“In the days prior to making landfall in Libya, the same low-pressure storm (named Storm Daniel by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service) swamped parts of Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria,” said NASA.

“As the storm approached Libya, it developed characteristics of a tropical-like cyclone, or ‘medicane,’ with winds measuring around 70 to 80 kilometers (43 to 50 miles) per hour.”

The coastal city of Al Bayda received 16 inches of rain in one day. The port city of Derna received more than 4 inches – which massively exceeded the average monthly rainfall for September of 0.1 inches.

“Derna lies at the end of a long, narrow valley, called a wadi, which is dry for most of the year. Floods triggered two dams along Wadi Derna to collapse, sending floodwater and mud to the city,” said NASA.

Residents in Derna said they heard loud explosions as the dams collapsed. The floodwater swept away roads and entire neighborhoods. 

On Tuesday, a minister in the eastern administration said that more than 1,000 bodies have been recovered in Derna and officials said thousands more were missing. 

On Wednesday, Derna Mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television that the estimated number of deaths in the city could reach between 18,000 to 20,000 based on the number of districts destroyed by the flood.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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