The initial floods in northeastern Libya — after torrential rain this past weekend — were bad enough. But the worst of the damage was not a result of those floods. It has instead come from the subsequent bursting of two dams near the coastal city of Derna.

The waters that those dams had been holding back washed entire neighborhoods into the sea, officials said. Tall buildings fell into the mud, trapping residents under rubble. At least 5,200 people have died and thousands more are missing.

“The situation is catastrophic,” the Derna City Council said in a Facebook post. “Derna is pleading for help.”

The chain of events — first a major storm, followed by a collapse of infrastructure that made the situation far worse — reminded experts of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans almost 20 years ago.

Today’s newsletter gives you the latest news from Libya, with help from our colleagues Vivian Nereim, a Times correspondent, and Mohammed Abdusamee, who is in Tripoli.

Medical teams have flown to Libya to help search for survivors and treat the injured. But rescue efforts have been slow because the flooding cut off roads into Derna.

Workers from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates arrived yesterday in Benghazi, a city more than 180 miles away. The Libyan government in Tripoli also has sent supplies, including body bags and medical equipment, to Benghazi. But it is not clear if supplies have reached the most affected areas.

The Derna City Council called for a safe shipping route to the city and for international intervention.

President Biden said the U.S. would send emergency funds to relief organizations and that it would coordinate with the U.N. and Libyan authorities. Emmanuel Macron, France’s leader, also announced financial and other aid for organizations working in Libya.

Scientists say that climate change may have increased the severity of the storm that caused the flooding, a Mediterranean cyclone named Daniel. Though climate change is likely making Mediterranean cyclones less common, it is intensifying those that do form.

Making matters worse, Libyans are especially vulnerable. “Libya is ill-prepared to handle the effects of climate change and extreme weather,” said Malak Altaeb, an environmental expert.

Most Libyans live in coastal areas at risk of flooding as sea levels rise. Towns along dry riverbeds can also flood rapidly when heavy rain falls and the parched earth struggles to absorb it.

“This is going to happen more and more as the climate warms,” said Matthew Brubacher, an expert on Libyan climate change. “Everything is falling apart.”

Since Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government fell in 2011, Libya has lacked a strong central government. Instead, two rival factions have struggled for control: an internationally recognized government based in Tripoli, in the west, and another group in the east whose domain includes the flooded area.

As Daniel approached, the authorities in eastern Libya — who have limited resources — seemed to have no plan to monitor the dams and evacuate residents, experts said. “For the past 10 years there hasn’t really been much investment in the country’s infrastructure,” said Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group.

More flooding still seems possible. Yesterday, the mayor of Tocra, 120 miles from Derna, warned on a local television channel that another dam was at risk of collapse.

  • Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un met in eastern Russia for a summit in which they were expected to discuss arming Russian troops.

  • Russia has overcome Western sanctions to expand its missile production.

  • King Mohammed VI, Morocco’s leader, has kept a low profile after the earthquake. Some said that slowed rescue efforts.

  • Though citizens are frustrated with the earthquake response, criticism of the king can have serious consequences.

  • Many Moroccans are eager for visitors to keep coming to support the economy and fund relief.

The Supreme Court can earn back some legitimacy by forcing Alabama to comply with the Voting Rights Act in its congressional maps, Kate Shaw writes.

Lives Lived: As New York City’s police commissioner in the 1990s, Howard Safir expanded antidrug efforts and improved officer training. But New Yorkers criticized his response to fatal police shootings of Black men. He died at 81.

Aaron Rodgers: The Jets’ quarterback is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. New York fans’ hopes that he would lead the team to a Super Bowl were short lived.

Substitution: Zach Wilson is now the Jets’ starting quarterback.

New boss: David Stearns, the former Brewers president and general manager, will take over the baseball operations for the New York Mets.

Tennis: Simona Halep received a four-year suspension for a doping violation after she tested positive for a banned substance at last year’s U.S. Open.

Internet fame: The first museum to reach 100 million views on YouTube was not the Louvre or the Smithsonian. It was the Tank Museum. Its videos, which include detailed discussions on tank technology and history, have made this museum in the English countryside an unlikely global sensation.

David Leonhardt and Lauren Jackson

Source link

You May Also Like

‘Grateful’ Australian ‘Cast Away’ sailor back on dry land

An Australian sailor rescued with his dog after more than two months…

Ford recalls over 634K SUVs due to fuel leaks and fire risk

Ford Motor Co. is recalling over 634,000 SUVs worldwide because a cracked…

Multiple NYPD officers stabbed with machete near Times Square

Multiple New York City Police officers were stabbed by a suspect wielding…

An embarrassment in the House | 60 Minutes

An embarrassment in the House | 60 Minutes – CBS News Watch…