Newsdeck

Libya floods

Casualties in Libya floods could have been avoided with warning system: WMO chief

Casualties in Libya floods could have been avoided with warning system: WMO chief
A general view of Derna, Eastern Libya, 13 September 2023, days after Storm Daniel brought heavy rains to the area resulting in the collapse of two dams and a flash flood which especially devastated the town of Derna. The Libyan Red Cresent reported that the floods caused by storm Daniel on 10 September in eastern Libya left thousands of people dead and according to preliminary statistics, the number of missing people has exceeded ten thousand people. EPA-EFE/Mohamed Shalash

GENEVA, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday that casualties could have been avoided in the floods that hit Libya if the divided country had a functional weather service able to issue warnings.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said Libya’s main challenge in managing the aftermath of floods that have killed thousands was that the governing was “not functioning normally”.

“If they would have been a normally operating meteorological service, they could have issued a warning,” he said.

“The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out evacuation of the people. And we could have avoided most of the human casualties.”

Rescue operations are complicated by political fractures in the country that has been at war on-and-off with no strong central government since a NATO-backed uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

An internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNU) is based in Tripoli, in the west, while a parallel administration operates in the east, including the city of Derna, which has been devastated by flooding.

Taalas said WMO had previously been in touch with Libyan authorities to assist them in reforming the meteorological system, but that these efforts had been hampered by security threats.

“Since the security situation in the country is so difficult, it’s difficult to go there and improve the situation,” he said.

(Reporting by Cécile Mantovani; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz