One week following torrential rain in eastern Libya and the collapse of two dams which caused the most destruction, survivors face new challenges.
Local officials, aid agencies and the World Health Organization “are concerned about the risk of disease outbreak, particularly from contaminated water and the lack of sanitation”, the United Nations said Monday.
The health minister of the divided country’s eastern administration announced on Sunday (Sep. 17) the launch of a vaccination campaign in flood-ravaged Derna.
“Vaccination has a health aspect, in order to protect those who are working on the ground and prevent any possibility of them getting infected,” Othman Abdeljalil said.
“At the same time, we also want to reassure citizens that the ministry of health is following up on the matter and the process will be organised.”
The minister said workers in rescue operations, workers in the health sector, and children will be prioritized.
Traumatised residents are badly in need of clean water, food and basic supplies amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition, the UN warned.
Emergency response teams and aid have been deployed from France, Greece, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Search efforts are ongoing.
“Due to the large number of corpses and the heavy workload, there was no way for us to count the numbers, and there was no time. The Egyptian community here said that there are 5,000 missing people,” Mohannad Edris al-Oukili, director of the ambulance and emergency service, said.
Conflicting death tolls have emerged following floods in Libya.
The health minister in the eastern administration said 3,338 people were confirmed dead in Derna, late on Monday (Sep. 18).
On that same day the Tripoli-based government announced the launch of work to build a temporary bridge that would span the wadi that cuts through Derna.
The massive flooding caused two upstream river dams in Derna to rupture, sending a late-night tidal wave crashing through the centre of the city of 100,000 and sweeping entire residential blocks into the Mediterranean.
The United Nations has launched an aid appeal for more than $71 million.