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The residence of the mayor of Derna set on fire amid protests over the floods

In the wake of a calamitous flood in Derna, Libya, anger and protests have increased. On Monday night, hundreds of people gathered at the city’s Sahaba Mosque, with many calling for the removal of senior officials from Libya’s eastern government. The aftermath saw Derna’s entire city council sacked and mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi’s house burnt down, as residents demanded answers.

The cataclysm occurred when two aging and poorly maintained dams broke, flooding the city. Official records indicate more than 10,000 missing, while the UN has verified almost 4,000 fatalities. Various reports, restrictions on the media and the expulsion of journalists have compounded the tragedy.

Adding to the tensions, the UN reported restricted access to Derna for its teams. However, according to Najwa Mekki of the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, the teams already present in Derna persist in their operations.

Locals accuse officials of inadequate warnings before the deluge. Despite official denials, residents say they were told to stay at home instead of evacuating.

Since the removal of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has struggled with power struggles, currently hosting two governments: one backed by the UN in Tripoli and another in the east backed by warlord General Khalifa Haftar. Haftar calls the flooding a natural phenomenon, while many dispute the eastern government’s oversight of the precarious dams.

The evidence suggests negligence; Abdelqader al-Omrani, a local, recalled notifying officials about the dam leaks two years earlier.

World Weather Attribution experts point to the nation’s conflicts and dam neglect as exacerbating the disaster. They also underline the role of global warming, intensifying rainfall by up to 50% in eastern Libya.

After the protests, an eastern Libyan government minister ordered journalists out of Derna. Emadeddin Badi of the Atlantic Council highlighted the political motive behind the move.

As international aid arrives, locals warn of an impending health crisis and call for more help. They also request that facilities reissue lost documents. Monday’s demonstrations, the most extensive since the start of the flood, suggest potential institutional support. Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group points to the unusual accessibility of the Sahaba Mosque, which is usually cordoned off during protests, implying that the demonstration may not be purely spontaneous.

This article is sourced from and written by AI.

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