Libya mourns

Up to 20,000 people may have been killed in Libya’s eastern city of Derna (pop: 90,000) after catastrophic flooding this week.

The catalyst was a rare Mediterranean hurricane (‘medicane’) named Daniel, that caused deadly flooding in Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and beyond.

After the storm turned south over the weekend, heavy rainfall caused two dilapidated dams near Derna to fail. A 60-foot wall of water then inundated the city and swept entire neighbourhoods out to sea.

Intrigue’s take: The science suggests these kinds of medicanes are becoming less frequent but more extreme. Either way, North African infrastructure was never built for storms like Daniel. And Libya’s years of conflict make adaptation near impossible.

Also worth noting:

  • Over 400mm (16 inches) of rain fell in the nearby city of Bayda on 10-11 September, more than Libya’s annual average rainfall.
  • The death toll in Libya already exceeds that of the 1927 Algerian floods (3,000 killed), making it Africa’s deadliest storm since 1900. It’s also the deadliest storm globally since at least 2013.