WMO: Casualties in Libya Floods Could Have Been Avoided with Warning System

WMO: Casualties in Libya Floods Could Have Been Avoided with Warning System
WMO: Casualties in Libya Floods Could Have Been Avoided with Warning System

On Thursday, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that “most of the victims of the devastating floods that claimed thousands of lives and left many missing in eastern Libya could have been saved.”

During a press conference in Geneva, WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas stated that “it would have been possible to issue warnings, and emergency management authorities could have evacuated the residents, thus avoiding most of the human losses,” according to the AFP.

Taalas pointed out the lack of organisation, amid the prevailing chaos in the country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

“If they would have been a normally operating meteorological service, they could have issued warnings. The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out evacuations of people. We could have avoided most of the human casualties,” he added.

In 2022, scientific research published indicated that Derna was prone to recurring flash floods, through dry riverbeds.

At that time, researchers called for immediate steps to ensure regular maintenance of dams in the region. They warned of the catastrophic consequences that widespread floods would have on the valley’s inhabitants, and the city.

Derna currently faces a mounting humanitarian crisis following storm Daniel, with recent sources from the region now reporting an alarming death toll surpassing 7,000.

In press statements to Sky News Arabia, Ayman Badr, a member of Libya’s permanent delegation to the United Nations, revealed the harrowing scale of the tragedy. Badr highlighted the city’s dire situation, stating that “not only has the death count in Derna reached over 7,000, but it continues to rise with each passing hour.”

While initial government data pointed to approximately 5,300 fatalities in Derna, which bore the brunt of the storm, contrasting figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) suggested at least 5,000. The disparity underscores a concerning lack of clarity, with some on the ground fearing the true toll could approach a staggering 10,000.