Scenes From a Deluge: Floods Devastate Libya

Trouble was looming. That much was clear.

For days, Libyans looked across the Mediterranean to Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, where a powerful storm had already killed more than a dozen people.

But when it got to the North African nation, disaster grew exponentially. Torrential rains swelled the waters behind two dams until they burst, inundating entire communities. More than 5,000 people were feared dead on Tuesday, and in the coastal city of Derna, entire neighborhoods were carried out to sea, the local authorities said.


The two dams that broke were near the city of Derna.

Credit…Jamal Alkomaty/Associated Press

The city of Derna after the storm lifted.

Credit…Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

In the city of Derna alone, at least 5,200 people died, one government official said.

Credit…Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Some fled Derna empty-handed — “as if they were born today, with nothing,” one Army official said.

Credit…Jamal Alkomaty/Associated Press

Mourners gathering to pray in the capital, Tripoli. The photograph was released by the office of Libya’s Tripoli-based prime minister.

Credit…via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Checking bodies in Derna.

Credit…Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Some victims were placed into a common grave in Derna.

Credit…Ayman Al-Sahili/Reuters

Mapping Where Floods Have Devastated a Libyan Port City

Derna, on Libya’s northeast coast, was inundated with floodwaters that killed more than 5,000 people after Storm Daniel made landfall on Sunday.


Water unleashed by the dams poured through Derna, a city of roughly 100,000 people.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“What happened in Derna was beyond imaginable — you would never think of such torrential rain in a desert country.”

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As Libyans struggled to reach their loved ones, social media groups were filled with inquiries from relatives of people in Derna.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Thousands of people have been displaced.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Destroyed roadways in Al-Mukhaili.

Credit…Libya Al-Hadath, via Reuters

Derna was built on the ruins of an ancient Greek colony. Now much of it is in ruins itself.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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