Tripoli, SANA-At least 11,300 are now believed to have died after torrents of water ripped through eastern Libya — a devastating toll that could largely have been avoided, global officials said Thursday.
Marie el-Drese, secretary general of the Libyan Red Crescent, told The Associated Press by phone that a further 10,100 had been reported missing in the ruined city of Derna. Earlier, city officials said the death toll could reach 20,000.
A precise tally of the rising number of people killed is incredibly difficult to compile given the level of destruction and the chaotic political situation in the region, with bodies still washing up on the shore and burials being held in mass graves.
As rescuers searched underwater and under rubble, fears grew that rotting bodies could lead to a deadly outbreak of disease.
A deluge of rainfall from Mediterranean storm Daniel caused two dams to collapse, sending waves more than 20 feet high through the heart of Derna, a port city in the country’s east.
More than 7,000 residents were wounded, ambulance service spokesman Osama Ali told NBC News.
Numbers have varied depending on which official has provided them, though all put the toll well into the thousands and Derna’s mayor has said that it could more than triple as search teams and survivors find more bodies in the ruins.