Wolverhampton-based Libyan man fears for family amid flooding

People stand in a damaged road as a powerful storm and heavy rainfall flooded hit Shahhat city, Libya, September 11, 2023
Roads have been taken out by the flooding

A Libyan man living in Wolverhampton said he was worried for relatives caught up in catastrophic flooding that has claimed thousands of lives.

Two dams failed bringing devastating floods to the eastern city of Derna, sweeping away entire neighbourhoods.

The Red Crescent aid organisation said 10,000 people were missing with the mayor of Derna estimating between 18,000 and 20,000 people have died.

Ashraf Ali said it took two days to see if friends and family were safe.

The floods destroyed communication networks making it extremely difficult to contact family, he said.

"My family and my wife's family are safe but we lost a lot of friends and loved ones," he said.

"The situation is really bad. People have lost their loved [ones] and their homes. It's very difficult.

"People in the affected city… lack basic necessities, like water and food so the situation there is unbelievable.

"We haven't experienced something like that before."

The country is divided between rival governments in the east and west and Mr Ali said that was hampering rescue efforts as relatives outside of Libya want to send much-needed money but do not trust it will reach them.

He said he was aware of groups helping people there, but there was a need for experienced teams to help find the missing people in the rubble. Getting access to water was also now a problem.

Flooding in the Libyan region of Misrata
The city of Misrata, in the west, was among those hit by heavy rains

The UN's World Meteorological Organization said on Thursday deaths could have been avoided and warnings should have been issued.

"Most people there, they have no experience… even to try to send the money over, it is a bit difficult," he said.

He added: "People are still in shock, they still don't believe what happened.

"They're just trying to find the missing people.. and they worry if they can't find them soon after the situation then they will be worse.

"Getting water, especially water, is becoming a big problem now."

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