Skip to main content

Libya floods: One quarter of buildings in city of Derna destroyed

Over 891 buildings have been destroyed in the disaster which has ravaged much of the city's infrastructure, including roads, schools and homes
Vehicles are buried in mud and rubble in the aftermath of a devastating flood in eastern Libya's city of Derna, on 16 September 2023 (AFP)

Flash flooding caused by Storm Daniel has destroyed at least 891 buildings in Libya's coastal city of Derna, according to state media. 

The storm caused two dams to collapse, unleashing floods down a river running from Libya's eastern Green Mountains through the city and into the sea, sweeping away entire neighbourhoods. Over 11,300 people have died and more than 10,000 are still missing. 

The flooding has ravaged large swaths of the city. Libyan state media reported that an estimated additional 211 buildings have also been partially damaged in the disaster. 

Around 398 other buildings have been submerged in mud, leaving tens of thousands of survivors with no shelter or anywhere to stay.

The flooding has also wreaked havoc on schools, roads and hospitals, further adding to the challenges survivors face as well as making it more difficult to deliver emergency aid to the worst affected areas.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Survivors have shared photos of the magnitude and destruction caused by the disaster online. Images show cars swept away, wedged between trees.

Satellite imagery also revealed the scale of the destruction, showing vast parts of the city submerged in mud, while a number buildings have been swept into the sea.

The flooding has also had an impact on historical and heritage sites. Damage has been inflicted on a Unesco world heritage site in the ancient Cyrenaica province, on the slopes of the Green Mountains.

Libya floods leave ancient Cyrene battered and at risk of plundering
Read More »

Last week, Middle East Eye found the archaeological site battered by floodwater and landslides.

Numerous tombs, funerary stones and other archaeological structures dating from the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras had been buried under mud or carried by water torrents down into the lower valleys of the Mansoura region.

Many have raised concerns over the remains of ancient sites that sit close to the coast.

Over Libya's tumultuous past decade, Derna has been both neglected and attacked by various shifting authorities. It was one of the first cities to rise up against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In 2015, eastern commander Khalifa Haftar put the city under a siege that lasted for three years.

Between May 2018 and January 2019, Haftar subjected it to a brutal assault, seeking to expunge it of an armed group and assert his authority over eastern Libya.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.