An international conference on reconstruction of one of Libya’s coastal cities, decimated in a fatal flood in September, began Wednesday, one of Libya's rival governments announced.
In the early hours of Sept. 11, two dilapidated dams in the mountains above the eastern city of Derna collapsed, sending floodwaters roaring down the Wadi Derna river and through the city center, sweeping away entire city blocks. Government officials and aid agencies have given estimated death tolls ranging from more than 4,000 to over 11,000.
The two-day conference marks a tentative step toward the rebuilding of the city, with a total of 400 participants convening in Derna on Wednesday and in Benghazi on Thursday, Libya's eastern government said.
Most of the attendees are representatives from international delegations or companies specializing in infrastructure development and housing, the government said in an online statement.
The oil rich country has been divided between rival governments in its east and west for almost a decade, and has been mired in chaos since longtime ruler Moammar al-Gadhafi was ousted and later killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
Following the fatal flood, both people inside and outside of Libya called for an international investigation, reflecting the deep public mistrust in state institutions.
The two dams had not been maintained for decades despite repeated warnings that they were in need of repair.
According to Libya's eastern government, the conference is divided into three focus areas: the environment, development and future planning. No representatives from Libya's western government, which is seated in the capital Tripoli, attended the conference, according to the rival administration.