Libya Flood: After a Week, Families Haunted by Fate of the Missing 

This picture shows the aftermath of flash flooding caused by Storm Daniel in Libya's eastern port city of Derna on September 18, 2023. (AFP)
This picture shows the aftermath of flash flooding caused by Storm Daniel in Libya's eastern port city of Derna on September 18, 2023. (AFP)
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Libya Flood: After a Week, Families Haunted by Fate of the Missing 

This picture shows the aftermath of flash flooding caused by Storm Daniel in Libya's eastern port city of Derna on September 18, 2023. (AFP)
This picture shows the aftermath of flash flooding caused by Storm Daniel in Libya's eastern port city of Derna on September 18, 2023. (AFP)

"I lost my daughter. Her mother is convinced that she is still alive. I am convinced that she is dead," says Ahmed Ashour, 62. "The girl left me with a 3-month-old baby."

A week after the flood that swept the center of the city of Derna into the sea, families are still coping with the unbearable losses of their dead - and haunted by the unknown fates of the missing.

Ashour's eldest sister is also gone, and her daughter too.

"When we saw what happened to other people, we can accept anything that happened to us," she said.

The center of Derna is a wasteland, with stray dogs standing listlessly on muddy mounds where buildings once stood. Other buildings still somehow stand precariously above bottom floors that were mostly washed away. The legs of a store mannequin in dusty trousers stick out of the rubble in a ruined shop front.

Dams above the city burst in a storm a week ago, sending a huge torrent down a seasonal riverbed that runs through the center of the city of 120,000 people.

Thousands are dead and thousands more missing. Officials using different methodologies have given widely varying figures of the tolls so far; the mayor estimates more than 20,000 people were lost. The World Health Organization has confirmed 3,922 deaths.

"Hopes of finding survivors are fading, but we will continue efforts to search for any possible survivor," Othman Abduljaleel, health minister in the administration that controls eastern Libya, told Reuters by phone.

"Now efforts are focused on rescuing anyone and recovering bodies from under the rubble, especially at sea, with the participation of many divers and specialized rescue teams from countries."

Contaminated water

The roads into Derna were clogged on Monday with ambulances and trucks carrying in food, water, diapers, mattresses and other supplies.

Western countries and regional states have sent teams of rescue workers and mobile hospitals. Five Greek rescue workers, including three members of the armed forces, were killed in a car crash on Sunday.

The recovery effort has been hampered by chaos in a nation that has been a failed state since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.

Derna is in the east, beyond the control of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) in the west.

Residents say the threat to the city from the crumbling dams above it had been widely known, with projects to repair the dams stalled for more than a decade. They also blame authorities for failing to evacuate residents in time.

The biggest threat to survivors may now come from contaminated water supplies.

"The flooding crisis has left thousands of people in the Derna region without access to clean and safe drinking water, posing an imminent threat to their health and well-being," the International Rescue Committee charity said.

"Contaminated water can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases, putting vulnerable populations, especially women and children, at increased risk."



Israel-Hezbollah War... More Severe than ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’

An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
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Israel-Hezbollah War... More Severe than ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’

An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Israeli firefighter aircraft drops flame retardant on fires smoke after rockets fired from southern Lebanon hit an area in the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel on July 4, 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

In conflicts, both sides often set traps for each other. Yet today, in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, it appears both sides are falling into their own traps.

In the current Israel-Hezbollah conflict, despite denying interest in widening the war, both are moving towards escalation.

Israel continues military drills for expansion, supported by polls showing public backing, though decreasing recently. This support concerns Tel Aviv’s military leaders, who fear the public underestimates the war’s consequences.

Former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata warns such a war could devastate parts of Lebanon and cause significant harm in Israel, potentially resulting in around 15,000 deaths.

The Terrorism Research Institute at Reichman University conducted a study with 100 military and academic experts on potential war scenarios with Hezbollah.

Their findings were alarming: they warned that such a conflict could quickly escalate across multiple fronts, involving Iranian militias in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, alongside Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.

The study predicted that Hezbollah could launch a daily barrage of 2,500 to 3,000 rockets for 21 days, targeting military bases, cities like Tel Aviv, and critical infrastructure such as power plants, gas fields, desalination plants, airports, and weapon depots.

This onslaught would likely cause widespread chaos among Israelis.

Furthermore, Hezbollah might employ its strategy of sending “Radwan” units to infiltrate Israeli borders and occupy towns, similar to Hamas’ actions during operation Al-Aqsa Flood on Oct. 7.

The “Gaza-style destruction” scenario was initially floated to dampen calls for the army to invade Lebanese territory.

The Israeli military, wary of right-wing political pressures and their own hesitations about war, countered by publicizing plans indicating serious readiness.

Leaked drills suggest they are preparing for a large-scale ground invasion, aiming to occupy southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, possibly further to the Zahrani River.

They state that if Hezbollah rejects a political deal to stay away from borders, the military will enforce this with force.

They detail that the war could start with intense airstrikes, similar to Gaza, followed by a ground invasion.

Military sources reveal Israel has received delayed US weapons, including smart bombs, set to be used in airstrikes on southern Beirut suburbs and the Bekaa region at least.

The Litani River lies four kilometers from the border at its closest and extends 29 kilometers at its furthest, covering 1,020 square kilometers. It includes three major cities: Tyre (175,000 residents), Bint Jbeil, and Marjayoun, housing half a million people, with over 100,000 displaced.

Occupying this entire area won’t be easy. Hezbollah is stronger than Hamas, with a more extensive tunnel network and advanced weaponry. They’ve long been prepared for this war.

If Israel plans a short 21-day war, nothing guarantees that timeline, risking entanglement in Lebanon’s challenges once again.

The Israeli military is gearing up for a long war, preparing emergency reserves in hospitals, factories, government offices, and shelters.

They fear Hezbollah could launch thousands of rockets and drones, targeting key infrastructure like power plants, water desalination facilities, and gas wells.

Recent drills also factor in possible direct Iranian involvement, which could disrupt Red Sea shipping and possibly lead to strikes on Cyprus. This means all of Israel could face serious threats.

The Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies reports that Hezbollah has already fired over 5,000 projectiles from Lebanon, causing 33 deaths and extensive damage to both civilian and military targets in Israel.

There’s growing concern about the future of northern Israel, including 28 evacuated settlements and the city of Kiryat Shmona, whose residents are uncertain when they can safely return home.