Disasters & Accidents

Preliminary results of investigation into Derna dam collapse reveal flaws

Tripoli, Sept 17 (EFE).- Preliminary results of the investigation into the collapse of two Derna dams in eastern Libya show that cracks began to appear in 1999 and that maintenance was neglected despite the recommendations of a foreign audit in 2002.

Repairs could have dramatically reduced the death toll, which now exceeds 11,300, the report said.

The Turkish company hired to conduct the study in the early 2000s suggested maintaining both dams and building a third dam to relieve pressure.

Work on the latter began in 2010 – despite delays in payments – but was suspended a year later after the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader for 42 years.

The head of the Presidential Council – which acts as the head of state – Mohamed Al Manfi on Thursday asked the prosecutor general to launch an investigation to determine the reasons for the dams’ collapse, as well as any negligence, and to identify those responsible.

The emergency team of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU), recognized by the international community, announced that the Missing Persons Search Authority has so far carried out a total of 360 DNA analyses on the bodies found, which will allow the exact number of victims to be determined in the coming days.

However, the spokesman of the Ambulance and Emergency Service, Osama Ali, stated that there are discrepancies between the statistics of the different agencies, so his service will refrain from giving new figures until they are “accurate and official”.

On Sunday, the Red Crescent opened a special line to report missing persons and urged relatives to come to its headquarters to register their information to create a unified database.

According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – which monitors the displacement and mobility of populations – there are nearly 113,000 migrants in the region, including 8,600 in Derna.

The majority come from Egypt, Sudan and Chad, so several embassies are expected to confirm the death or disappearance of their nationals.

Haider Al Sayeh, director of the Center for Disease Control, assured that the epidemiological situation is “stable” and is not currently dangerous, thanks to the awareness campaigns.

Nevertheless, authorities will launch next Sunday a campaign of vaccination of minors with 50,000 doses against cholera in Denra and surrounding communities.

The Department of Environmental Health has urged the cleanup of the city through the use of pesticides, the closure of wells and sewer systems in the affected areas.

Last Sunday, September 10, the torrential rains caused by Cyclone Daniel devastated the northeast of the country, particularly the coastal city of Derna, where they caused the collapse of two dams, releasing 33 million liters of water in the early hours of the morning, washing away entire neighborhoods, bridges and roads.

Libya’s political divisions further complicate rescue and reconstruction efforts in a country of seven million people that has been mired in conflict for more than a decade.

Two rival authorities share power: the Government of National Unity (GNU), based in Tripoli (west) and recognized by the international community, led by Abdulhamid Dbeiba; and the government of Benghazi, elected by parliament and under the control of Haftar, led by Osama Hammad.EFE


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