After the devastating storm in Libya, the extent of the destruction is slowly becoming visible. According to a spokesman for the Interior Ministry of one of the two rival governments in the civil war country, around 5,200 people were killed in the floods. The numbers cannot yet be confirmed independently.

While rescuers and relatives search for survivors, around 10,000 people are now missing, according to the Red Cross.

Storm “Daniel”, which had already caused severe destruction in Greece, hit the North African country with around seven million inhabitants on Sunday. The port city of Darna is particularly badly affected. Videos and photos on social media show a catastrophic level of devastation in the coastal city: destroyed houses and cars in streets flooded with mud.

According to eyewitness reports, the strong winds caused electricity pylons to fall. In the middle of the night, a dam not far from the coastal town burst with a loud bang. Finally, a second dam gave way to the masses of water that thundered from the valley towards Darna. Landmarks, houses and people are said to have been washed into the sea. Around a quarter of the city was lost.

Victims buried in mass graves

Hundreds of victims were buried in mass graves near Darna. “Those whose identities were established were buried first,” said an eyewitness. “Due to the power outage and lack of places for the bodies, the other dead were photographed and then buried so that they could be identified later.” The victims are said to include entire families who were buried together.

Osama Ali, a spokesman for the local emergency services, reported on the difficult efforts of the rescuers. “There is another road leading into the city. But the passage is difficult and dangerous as part of the road is destroyed and further collapse is expected due to the huge volumes of water.”

Around 20,000 square kilometers flooded

In addition to Darna, other cities such as Al-Baida, Al-Marj, Susa and Shahat are also affected. The mayor in Shahat spoke of around 20,000 square kilometers of flooded areas – an area about the size of Saxony-Anhalt. The affected regions were declared “disaster areas”.

The government in the capital Tripoli under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbaiba spoke of the heaviest rains in more than 40 years. Three days of national mourning were declared on Monday. The disaster initially seemed to bring the civil war-torn country together, as helpers on site reported.

Currently, two hostile governments – one based in the East, the other based in the West – are fighting for power. All diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the civil war, which continues to this day, have so far failed. The conflict is being further fueled by foreign states. The state order in the country has largely collapsed and numerous conflict parties are struggling for influence after long-term ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi was violently overthrown in 2011.

Germany wants to help

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was dismayed by the severe flooding. “Our thoughts are with all those affected and their families,” wrote Scholz on X, formerly Twitter. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) promised support from the Technical Relief Agency (THW). “We want to help quickly after this terrible natural disaster,” said the minister.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also spoke of heartbreaking scenes on the online platform X (formerly Twitter). The EU stands with the people of Libya in the face of this tragedy. Pope Francis expressed “deep sadness” in a letter of condolence.

Meanwhile, more and more countries have offered their help. Turkey has now organized the dispatch of rescue workers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on the online platform X (formerly Twitter) that flights had been organized with rescue teams including lifeboats, tents and supplies on board. Neighboring Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union also pledged support.

London offers support

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has offered support to the people of Libya. “My thoughts are with all those affected by the catastrophic flooding in eastern Libya,” said the politician. Great Britain stands ready for support. “We are in contact with Libyan authorities and the UN to quickly assess what support we can offer the Libyan people at this tragic time.”