Survivors of floods in Libya described hearing an explosion when one of the two dams in the Derna and a tsunami drowned the city, with the water rising up to the third floor of the buildings. Some escaped by jumping from rooftop to rooftop, others stayed for hours inside their flooded apartments, with water almost reaching the ceiling.

At the entrance to Derna, a city of 100,000 people in eastern Libya, a group of survivors sought shelter today as their homes were destroyed. Many were wearing pajamas and slippers, as they did not have time to change clothes: they ran as fast as they could to save themselves.

Raja Sasi, 39, fled with his wife and daughter when the water reached the upper floor of their home. All other family members were lost.

“At first we thought it was just heavy rain but at midnight we heard a huge explosion. It was the dam that broke,” he said, describing the streets of the city center as littered with the dead.

His wife, 31-year-old Nouria al-Hassadi, who was holding their young daughter tightly during their escape, called it a “miracle” that they survived.

Safia Mustafa, 41, a mother of two boys, said they managed to leave the house before the building collapsed. They climbed onto the roof and escaped by jumping onto the roofs of neighboring buildings. Her son Obai, 10, said he was praying to God to save them.

Saliha Abu Bark, a 46-year-old lawyer, said she and her two sisters were saved but their mother was killed. The water flooded the building where they lived, reaching up to the third floor. The apartment filled with water up to the ceiling and for three hours she held on to a piece of furniture, trying to stay afloat. “I know how to swim but when I tried to save my family there was nothing I could do,” he explained. The water receded at some point and they managed to escape, just before the building collapsed, with their mother still inside.

At least 2,200 dead

At least 2,200 people have been killed in the devastating floods in Derna, the director of a hospital in the city told Reuters.

According to Mohammad al-Khabisi, the director of Wahda Hospital, 1,700 people died in one of the city’s districts and 500 in the other.

France and the US are sending aid to flood victims

France will send a field hospital to Libya to help flood victims after storm Daniel passed through the country, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanen announced.

“After the dramatic floods in Libya, we are sending, at the request of the president of the Republic, the Civil Protection campaign hospital,” Darmanen said in a post on Platform X. The staff will start leaving tonight so that the hospital can be put into operation. within the next 48 hours.

Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre assured that France is ready to send aid and “respond to the requests” of the Libyan authorities, in coordination with the United Nations.

The United States will also send resources to aid organizations and coordinate with Libyan authorities and the UN to provide aid to those affected, President Joe Biden announced.