A representative from one of the rescue missions in Libya warned that it might be difficult to recover the dead bodies that were “severely decomposed” during the devastating Storm Daniel that killed thousands.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update on Saturday that the flooding left approximately 11,300 people dead, 10,100 missing, and at least 30,000 people displaced in Libya’s eastern coastal city of Derna alone. Some 170 people were killed elsewhere in eastern Libya.
Rescue missions from neighboring countries and other nations were sent to retrieve dead bodies from the sea and collapsed buildings. But, most dead bodies are in the water and more equipment is needed for retrieval, according to the rescuers.
“Bodies are severely decomposing and at one point retrieving them might not be possible,” a representative from the Tunisian mission said during a meeting with counterparts from Russia, Arab countries, Turkey and Italy, according to CNN. “We need assistance so our intervention is more efficient.”
Derna has been devastated by floodwaters when two dams collapsed after the region had 16 inches of rain in a single day when Storm Daniel struck the city. The flooding swept entire neighborhoods in Derna, the epicenter of the storm destruction.
Nearly 60% of the city’s population of 90,000 are either dead, missing, or displaced because of the flooding.
Meanwhile, representatives of rescue missions sent to Libya from Egypt and UAE said that only boats can reach many areas in bays and coves in the Mediterranean to retrieve corpses.
A representative from the Algerian mission said that around 50 dead bodies were found around a cliff located nearly seven nautical miles from the Derna port. However, this area can only be accessed by divers and boats, according to the representatives.
Teams also warned that other corpses trapped under piles of mud in neighborhoods in Derna could cause a health crisis if not evacuated.
The head of the UN mission in Libya Abdoulaye Bathily posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday pictures of nearly demolished buildings and destruction in Derna, and said that more assessments are being made to improve rescue efforts.
“More than 40,000 people have been displaced across northeastern Libya, though these figures are likely higher as access restrictions have limited data collection in the worst-affected areas,” the OCHA update read.
The impact of Storm Daniel intensified due to weak infrastructure, insufficient warnings for residents, and the ongoing effects of climate change, according to CNN.
“With thousands of displaced people now on the move, the risk of exposure to landmines and Explosive Ordnance of War (ERW) leftover from years of conflict is on the rise, as flood waters have now shifted landmines and ERW,” OCHA said in its Saturday update.