The destruction of Derna – podcast | News

“The city’s lost its heart,” Johr Ali, a Libyan freelance journalist, tells Michael Safi. “The city’s lost about 25% to 30% of its buildings, of its people, of its streets, banks, schools. That all was taken by the flood and thrown into the sea.”

On 10 September, a flood swept through the Libyan city of Derna when two dams collapsed during a powerful storm. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, at least 11,300 people died and more than 10,000 people are missing. The World Health Organization has confirmed 3,922 deaths.

Johr says the people of Derna had been concerned about the dams for a long time and they were not properly maintained. “Corruption is one of the main reasons that everything happened,” he says. “Much of it absolutely could have been avoided.”

On Monday, protesters gathered outside Al-Sahaba mosque in Derna to express their anger at the authorities’ handling of the disaster and demand an inquiry.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization’s secretary general, Petteri Taalas, has said most of the deaths could have been avoided if authorities had issued appropriate warnings and undertaken evacuations.

Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

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