‘Dam of death’: Libya survivors had just minutes to escape tsunami-like torrent


The sheer numbers of people dead or unaccounted for in the Libyan city of Derna is overwhelming survivors, who say they had minutes to get away before the coastal city was devastated by flooding.

A Sky News TV crew has reached the devastated port city where people have been using their bare hands to dig for loved ones.

Reports suggest almost a quarter of the city has been washed away, following a massive flood fed by the breaching of two dams in heavy rains.

Untold numbers could be buried under drifts of mud and debris, including overturned cars and chunks of concrete, metres high.

Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford said: “We are pretty much near the centre of Derna, quite near the port, and everywhere you look here – it’s 360° destruction.

“Where we are standing is the first floor of a nine-storey block of flats – it’s just been levelled.

“Behind me are many more blocks of flats – all pancaked. You can just see the foundations left here.

“The force of the water was so strong from the two dams which collapsed that the locals say it sounded like an explosion, after explosion, after explosion.

“Massive tonnes of rocks, whole apartment blocks just swept away. There are three bridges that have been swept away. Building after building has been levelled or smashed through.”

Daniel, an unusually strong Mediterranean storm, caused deadly flooding in towns across eastern Libya, but the worst-hit was Derna.

Those in the worst-affected region are calling it a disaster of “biblical proportions” – with the number of fatalities soaring to 11,300, according to the Libyan Red Crescent.

Morgues are overwhelmed as people race to bury the dead.

Most of the dead have been buried in mass graves outside Derna, while others are being transferred to nearby towns and cities.

The flooding swept away entire families on Sunday night and exposed vulnerabilities in the oil-rich country, which has been mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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