Flood: Libya orders arrest of eight officials suspected of negligence
The Prosecutor General of Libya recently called for the arrest of eight officials suspected of negligence and poor management in connection with a disastrous flood.
This catastrophe, likened to a tsunami by onlookers, resulted from the failure of two aged dams on September 10, following a storm of hurricane intensity around the eastern Libyan port city of Derna.
These officials, who are currently or have previously been in positions overseeing water resources and dam management, are now under intense scrutiny.
Flood Toll Exceeds Thousands
The official death toll from the flood now surpasses 3,800, with international aid organizations estimating that up to 10,000 people or more may be unaccounted for.
The Prosecutor General, Al-Seddik al-Sur, disclosed that the dams had shown signs of cracking since 1998. Repairs were initiated by a Turkish company in 2010 but were suspended a few months later due to the outbreak of the 2011 revolution in Libya and never resumed.
Political Conflict and Natural Disaster
Al-Sur is affiliated with the internationally recognized administration based in Tripoli, in Western Libya, which is cut off from the flood-affected East by ongoing conflict.
The eastern forces launched a failed attack on the capital, resulting in a ceasefire in 2020. Since then, relative stability has allowed the war-ravaged country to attempt to rebuild and recover.
Two Dams, One Catastrophe
The first dam to fail, the Abu Mansur dam, located 13 kilometers from Derna, held nearly 800 million cubic feet of water. The second, Al Bilad, just a kilometer from the city, had a capacity of 1.5 million cubic meters. The rush of water and debris surged through the city center’s dry riverbed, causing immense destruction.
Both dams, built in the 1970s by a Yugoslav company to protect Derna from floods, have been neglected for years. Despite a budget allocated annually for dam repair since the 2011 revolution, no government has taken up the work.
A 2021 report from the Libyan audit bureau criticized the delay in resuming dam repair, and in November 2022, engineer and academic Abdel Wanis Ashour warned of a potential “catastrophe” if authorities did not maintain the dams.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.