Deadly floods swept through northeastern Libya over the weekend, with the top official in the region warning that the toll could exceed 2,000 dead as rescue teams searched for survivors.
Later, a spokesman for authorities in that region cautioned that it was difficult to give an exact figure for fatalities because rescue efforts were still underway, though officials in the east believe more than 2,000 are dead or missing. The authorities have confirmed only 27 deaths so far.
It was not immediately clear what the head of the divided country’s eastern region, Osama Hamad, or the spokesman were basing their numbers on. But the flooding was centered in the region under Mr. Hamad’s administration.
The internationally recognized government in western Libya, in Tripoli, has not put out figures.
“Entire neighborhoods have been swept away by the sea, and entire neighborhoods have disappeared with their inhabitants,” Mr. Hamad said in a phone interview with the Libyan television channel al-Masar on Monday from the port city of Derna in eastern Libya.
Heavy rainfall over the weekend in the country’s northeast swelled waters past riverbanks and officials said the force of the floodwaters swept away hundreds of homes and washed away roads. Stranded residents posted accounts of being trapped inside homes and cars, according to footage on social media.
Aftermath in Shahhat city, Libya, on Monday.Credit…Reuters
Derna was one of the worst-hit areas. Local officials have declared a disaster zone and large parts of the city were submerged. Roads into the city have been cut off and two dams in the city collapsed, the City Council confirmed on Monday on its Facebook page.