The city of Dernain Libyawas completely destroyed by water after, last Sunday, two dams will collapse after the passage of storm Daniel.
However, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN agency, Petteri Taalas, maintained that “most deaths could have been avoided” and blamed the political instability in the country during recent decades for this.
Even a 2021 report from the country’s audit denounced the procrastination of the competent portfolio on maintenance tasks for these structures.
As the investigations seek to determine more accurately what happened, it was learned that the collapsed dams They had cracks since 1998 but were never repaired.
Abu Mansur and Al Bilad They were built on the homonymous channel in the 1970s by a Yugoslav company, “not so much to collect water but to protect Derna from floods,” indicated Libyan Attorney General Al Sedik Al Sur, since in 1941, 1959 and 1968 The city had suffered a series of major floods.
Almost thirty years after their construction, in 1998, the national dam directorate reported the presence of cracks in these structures and, two years later, the authorities hired an Italian company to assess the severity of the damage.
The team confirmed the diagnosis and recommended the construction of a third dam to protect the city.
The project was not tackled until 2007when the regime Muammar al-Qaddafi He set out to hire a Turkish company to take care of them. However, the tasks were postponed due to lack of payment and actually began in 2010but they saw each other suspended less than five months later by the revolution that overthrew and ended the life of the dictator.
Subsequent administrations were characterized by disorder and carelessness and, although an annual budget For the repair of the dams, the works were never carried out.
The years passed and, in 2022the Libyan engineer and academic Abdel Wanis Ashur carried out another study on the ground in which he concluded that there was a real threat of “catastrophe” in Derna if the maintenance tasks were not completed once and for all.
The authorities ignored the warning and left the door open for a tragedy like this week’s to actually take place.
Due to the pressure of torrential rains last Sunday, Abu Mansur, located 13 kilometers from Derna and with a capacity of 22.5 million m3, gave way and released currents of water so strong that they impacted Al Bilad. This second one, located one kilometer from the coastal city and with a much smaller capacity, 1.5 million m3, gave way immediately.
Given its proximity to Derna, it was almost impossible for the flood to dissipate before reaching the place and, therefore, the impact was total. Many even compared the strength of the torrent with that of a tsunami.
Although the UN indicated that “the extent” of the destruction is still unknown, it is believed that 25% of the city was devastated and some USD 71.4 million was requested for humanitarian tasks.
Furthermore, the latest balance sheet showed some 11,300 dead, nearly 30,000 displaced and at least another 10,000 missing.
(With information from AFP)