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Death toll from Libyan floods tops 11K, threat of waterborne illnesses looms

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More than 11,000 people have been killed by devastating floods in Libya, with more than 10,000 still missing and now the threat of waterborne diseases.

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National and international rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble for bodies after two massive dams burst in the northern African country Monday, killing thousands and leaving 40,000 homeless, authorities said.

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Health officials now worry that diseases arising from the tainted waters could bring another wave of deaths.

“You’ve got a lot of standing water,” said Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. “It doesn’t mean the dead bodies pose a risk, but it does mean that the water itself is contaminated by everything.

“So, you really have to focus on ensuring that people have access to safe water,” Harris said.

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Mediterranean storm Daniel sparked the mayhem, with heavy rains bursting dams and sending a wall of water over two stories high raging across eastern Libya, with the worst damage in the port city of Derna.

Deadly floods in Libya.
International relief organizations are scrambling to get supplies to survivors of last weeks devastating floods in Libya
AFP via Getty Images

Search for bodies after Libyan floods.
National and international rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble in Libya following the catastrophic failure of two dams in the nations eastern regions last week

“The waves swept people away,” said survivor Adel Ayad. “We could see people carried by floodwater.”

In the aftermath, bodies “are littering the streets, washing back up on the shore and buried under collapsed buildings and debris,” said Bilal Sablouh, a regional forensics expert for Africa with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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“In just two hours, one of my colleagues counted over 200 bodies on the beach near Derna,” he said.

According to the Libyan Red Crescent, there were 11,300 deaths in Derna as of Thursday, with another 10,100 still unaccounted for. The storm also killed about 170 in other parts of Libya, officials said.

Severe water shortages and scarce supplies for survivors have now become a priority.

“We still do not know anything,” said one survivor who only identified himself as Wasfi. “We are hearing rumors, some are trying to reassure us, others are saying you need to leave the city or stay here.

“We have no water and no resources.”

Libya devastated by floods.
International health officials said waterborne disease presents a new danger following the devastating failure of two dams in easter Libya last week that left more than 11000 dead and 40000 homeless with more than 10000 still missing
AFP via Getty Images

Body bags in Libya
Rescue workers are still combing the rubble for bodies after more than 11000 people were killed in Libya last week when two dams burst in Derna and swept through large swaths of the African nations eastern regions with 10000 missing

The response to the devastating floods has brought uncommon unity to the politically divided country.

Libya has been divided by two rival political factions in the wake of the death of strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with the two sides immersed in a civil war in recent years.

“Everybody wants to help,” said Manoelle Carton, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. “But it is becoming chaotic. There is an enormous need for coordination.”

The floods came on the heels of another African disaster, as a massive earthquake struck Morocco last week, killing at least 2,000 people, according to authorities.

With Post wires

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New York Post Original Article

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