Wed | Oct 4, 2023

UN warns disease outbreak in Libya’s flooded east could spark ‘a second devastating crisis’

Published:Monday | September 18, 2023 | 3:08 PM
Rescue teams look for flash flood victims in the city of Derna, Libya, Monday, September 18, 2023. Mediterranean storm Daniel caused flooding that overwhelmed two dams, sending a wall of water through the city. More than 10,000 were killed, and another 10,000 are missing. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad)

DERNA, Libya (AP) — Officials warned Monday that a disease outbreak in Libya's northeast, where floods have killed thousands, could create “a second devastating crisis” as hundreds fell ill after drinking contaminated water.

In a statement, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya said it was particularly concerned about water contamination and the lack of sanitation after two dams collapsed during Mediterranean storm Daniel, sending a wall of water gushing through the eastern city of Derna on September 11.

The death toll has varied, with government officials and aid agencies giving tallies ranging from about 4,000 to 11,000 dead.

Nine UN agencies responding to the disaster are working to prevent diseases from taking hold and creating another crisis in the devastated country, which is receiving 28 tonnes (25 metric tonnes) of medical supplies from the World Health Organization, the mission said.

Haider al-Saeih, head of Libya's Center for Combating Diseases, said in televised comments Saturday that at least 150 people suffered diarrhoea after drinking contaminated water in Derna.

No further updates have been given.

The National Center for Disease Control has detected at least 55 children sickened after drinking polluted water in Derna.

The disaster has brought some rare unity to oil-rich Libya, which has been divided between rival administrations since 2014.

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