AFP The army is also helping in Derna
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 13:30
Libya’s top prosecutor says he has ordered the detention of eight officials over the investigation into the collapse of two dams. More than a week ago, the authorities announced that they were investigating the devastating dam breaches in the city of Derna. The public prosecutor now wants eight current and former officials to be detained while the investigation into the disaster continues.
Seven of them were questioned yesterday, it said in a statement. The AP writes that those interrogations focused on allegations of mismanagement, negligence and other errors that contributed to the disaster. These are (former) employees of the authorities involved in water supplies and dam management.
Eighth, the former mayor of Derna was also questioned. He was fired after the disaster. Last week there was a large demonstration by the residents in Derna. Angry protesters then set his house on fire. They believe that the local government has failed to protect the city from the water.
Experts say the collapse is partly due to Libya’s poorly maintained infrastructure. The money intended for maintenance of the buildings may have been used for other purposes.
The dams were built in the 1970s. A report in 2021 noted that they had not been maintained, despite more than $2 million being earmarked for them in 2012 and 2013.
An armed conflict has been raging in Libya for more than ten years, dividing the country into two: a western part and an eastern part, both with their own governments. The government in the west is recognized by the United Nations. The affected city of Derna is located in the eastern part of the country.
As a result of a storm, a huge amount of precipitation fell in a short period of time in eastern Libya about two weeks ago. As a result, two dams broke near the port city of Derna, resulting in floods and mudslides. Thousands of people died, thousands are still missing and the damage is enormous.
Local and international rescue teams are still searching for bodies in the mud and between collapsed buildings. The search is also underway in the Mediterranean Sea for the bodies of victims who were swept away by the water.
Correspondent Daisy Mohr joined a team that searches for bodies in the sea and on the beach. They also collect DNA material to identify the deceased. According to the volunteers, there are still many children in the sea and under the rubble:
Search for bodies in Libya: ‘Countless victims’
According to UN aid agency OCHA, the floods damaged a third of buildings and infrastructure in Derna. Authorities have evacuated the hardest-hit area of the city, according to OCHA. Only search and ambulance teams remain. The aid organization previously estimated that around 884,000 Libyans were affected by the disaster.
According to the Red Cross, one of the biggest challenges in the area is now supplying clean (drinking) water. The floods also destroyed water systems and sewers.