The UN is sounding the alarm about the Jaza dams, which lie between Derna and Benghazi, and Katara, near Benghazi.
After last week’s devastating and deadly floods in Libya – which according to the official count claimed 11,300 lives and left another 10,100 missing – the global community is now concerned about the situation at two more dams in the east of the country which, according to with information, they are under a lot of pressure from the volume of water.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) pointed out yesterday, Sunday, that these are the Jaza dams, located between Derna and Benghazi, and the Katara dams, near Benghazi.
Information on the stability of these dams is “conflicting”, the UN agency added.
Both are in good condition and working, Libyan authorities say, with local authorities saying pumps have been installed at Jaza Dam to relieve pressure.
Many districts in the city of Derna were swept away by the waters after the two dams of the river that runs through the city broke last Sunday night due to the heavy rains caused by storm Daniel.
Confusion over the death toll – Concern for the health of residents in Derna
The exact death toll from the floods is not known and there is still confusion about the number of victims.
An additional 170 people are estimated to have died elsewhere in eastern Libya, according to the UN agency.
OCHA cited the figures from the Libyan Red Crescent, but a spokesman for the aid organization expressed surprise at the numbers and denied them.
“What are the sources for these numbers?” asked Tawfiq al-Shukri, speaking to dpa. “The official numbers are announced by the service authorized by the Libyan authorities,” he added.
In its next report on the situation in Libya, OCHA changed the figures and spoke of 3,958 dead, according to the data of the World Health Organization, and of more than 9,000 missing.
Late yesterday, Sunday, the health minister of the eastern Libyan government, Othman Abdeljalil, said during a press conference that 3,283 people had been buried so far.
Abdeljalil reiterated his appeal to the media to follow the official casualty figures announced daily by his ministry.
“We regret that we have seen various announcements from local officials, and some from the international side, which speak of numbers that may cause panic among citizens,” he complained.
In the meantime al-Shukri of the Red Crescent stated that several groups from Libya and abroad are now participating in the search and rescue operations in Derna. Although he indicated that survivors were being found in the wreckage as of Saturday, he declined to give specific numbers.
At the same time, the concern about water safety in Derna is growing. On Saturday, 150 cases of diarrhea were recorded in the city due to the consumption of contaminated water.
However, the director of Libya’s National Center for Disease Control, Haider al-Sageh, said yesterday that agency teams had managed to contain the incidents and advised residents of the ravaged city not to drink water from springs and to prefer bottled water.
The prime minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government, Abdelhamid Dbeiba, has called for drinking water to be delivered to the affected areas, but his government does not control the eastern part of Libya.
The health minister of the eastern government indicated yesterday that a vaccination campaign has been launched with the aim of protecting all residents of Derna, as well as those who work there, including the military, health personnel and journalists.
After the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 in Libya there are two rival governments: one in Tripoli (west), recognized by the UN and headed by Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeiba, and another in the east linked to the powerful Marshal Khalifa Haftar .
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