Authorities in eastern Libya today asked journalists who have flocked to the flood-ravaged city of Derna to leave, while telecommunications that were operating despite the floods were cut off today.

After last night demonstration and the burning of the residence of the deposed mayor by angry citizens who accuse the authorities of failing to protect them, the authorities demanded the removal of hundreds of foreign journalists from Derna, stressing however that the decision was unrelated to the residents’ protests.

The Minister of Civil Aviation of the government that exercises power in eastern Libya, however, explained that the large influx of journalists “impedes the work of rescue teams”.

Hishel Abu Skiwat told Reuters by phone that the decision to ban journalists from Derna has nothing to do with the protest demonstrations in the vanished city.

“It’s an effort to create better conditions for the rescue teams to carry out the work more smoothly and efficiently,” explained Hishem Abu Skiwat. “The large number of journalists has become an obstacle for rescue teams.”

The mass demonstration is the first in Derna since the disaster.

Thousands of angry citizens gathered last night in the square in front of the iconic Sahaba Mosque shouting slogans and later stormed the residence of Mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaiti, who was suspended by the Benghazi government along with members of the city council and are subject to research. Residents believe the disaster could have been avoided, while officials admit a contract to repair the Derna area’s dams after 2007 was never implemented.

Protesters denounced the speaker of the eastern Libyan parliament, Aghila Saleh, who said the flood was a natural disaster that could not be avoided.

“Aguila we don’t want you! All Libyans are brothers!” shouted the demonstrators.

Demonstrators said they were demanding an urgent investigation into the collapse of the dams, while others admitted that “the government has failed to manage the crisis and that the biggest responsibility lies with parliament”.