Angry protests erupt in flood-hit Libyan city

Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

DERNA, Libya: Hundreds of protesters rallied in Libya´s disaster-hit Derna on Monday, accusing the authorities of neglect after a huge flash flood devastated the coastal city and swept thousands to their deaths.

Demonstrators gathered outside the city´s grand mosque and chanted slogans against the parliament in east Libya and its leader Aguilah Saleh. “The people want parliament to fall”, “Aguila is the enemy of God”, “The blood of martyrs is not shed in vain” and “Thieves and betrayers must hang”, they shouted.

A statement read on behalf of the protesters urged “a speedy investigation and legal action against those responsible for the disaster”. They also demanded a United Nations office in Derna and the start of “the city´s reconstruction, plus compensation for affected residents” and a probe into the current city council and previous budgets.

“Those who survived from the city, in what´s left of the city, against the ones who brought death and destruction to the city,” posted analyst Anas el-Gomati on X, formerly Twitter, under pictures of the destruction.

Politicians and analysts say the chaos in Libya since the 2011 fall and killing of Moamer Qadhafi has relegated the maintenance of vital infrastructure to the background. On September 10, two dams in which cracks were reported as far back as 1998 burst after Storm Daniel hit eastern Libya, unleashing a devastating and deadly torrent that swept through Derna, a city of 100,000 people.