At least 2,300 people have died in Libya and thousands are still missing after flash floods burst dams and flooded a coastal city. Some neighborhoods were completely destroyed.
Several countries have already offered help and will urgently send rescue teams to the war-torn country.
Large-scale destruction was reported in the coastal city of Derna, home to around 100,000 residents. Multi-story buildings on the riverbank collapsed and houses and cars disappeared into the water.
The Libyan emergency services have reported an initial death toll of more than 2,300 in Derna alone and say 5,000 people are still missing. About 7,000 people were injured.
“The situation in Derna is shocking and very dramatic,” said Osama Ali of the emergency and rescue service in Tripoli. “We need more support to save lives. There are still people trapped under the rubble and every minute counts.”
The floods were caused by torrential rains from Storm Daniel, which hit Libya on Sunday after earlier moving through Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Derna, 250 km east of Benghazi, is surrounded by hills and usually has a dry river bed in the summer. However, the city was turned into a river of muddy brown water and several bridges were swept away.
The Red Cross and other authorities in the eastern region warned that the death toll could rise. Three of the Red Cross volunteers have already passed away.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said communities have been suffering from conflict, poverty and displacement for years. The latest disaster will worsen the circumstances of these people. Hospitals and shelters are already under pressure.
More than 300 victims were buried on Monday – many in mass graves.
Oil-rich Libya is still recovering from years of war and chaos following the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that killed dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. The North African country is divided between two opposition governments – the UN-negotiated internationally recognized administration in Tripoli in the west and a separate administration in the disaster-stricken east. Access to the eastern region is restricted.