Skip to main content

Libya floods: Family found alive after surviving five days under rubble

Emergency services announce they pulled out the family in the city of Derna, saying there is still hope to find others
Rescuers carry body bags as they walk in front of buildings that collapsed during floods after the Mediterranean Storm Daniel hit Libya's eastern city of Derna, on 14 September 2023 (AFP)

Paramedics and emergency services in Libya announced that they found a family who had survived for five days under the rubble alive on Friday, following the powerful Storm Daniel that had devastated much of the eastern city of Derna.

The family were trapped under large slabs of rock and what appears to be collapsed walls of a house during the flash floods. They were found near al-Sahaba mosque late at night.

In a video published on social media, the rescue operation shows heavy machinery digging around the rubble of the damaged home.

Local residents and survivors stood around and watched as the rescue personnel pulled out a woman from under the rubble first. 

It wasn't immediately clear how many members of the family were pulled out.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

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


According to local media, Tamer Ramadan, the head of aid operations in Libya for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said rescue operations would continue in the city.

"There is still hope that those alive will be found," he said.

Ramadan did not give an exact death toll of the disaster so far, saying that any numbers given now "will not be final or accurate".

Aid workers and activists on the ground in Derna told Middle East Eye that it is difficult to know how many people have been killed in the storm and floods due to a lack of proper documentation process and the sheer magnitude of the disaster.

The floods have caused over 11,300 deaths in Derna in less than one week, according to Libya's Red Crescent. Entire neighbourhoods have been swept away, with over 10,000 people still missing.

An alert sent out by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday said that the recovery of bodies is now the priority.

OCHA Emergency Response Section said the primary need in Libya was "teams specialised in body recovery" and "body bags/human remains pouches". 

It suggested that search and rescue efforts may have moved on from the attempt to find survivors, more than four days after Storm Daniel ravaged Libya's east. 

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.