- Identification and Recording of Disaster Victims
- Uncertainty Surrounding the Missing and Death Toll
- International Aid Arrives Amidst Challenges in Coordination
A doctor wearing a mask leans into a black plastic body bag and manipulates the legs of the individual inside with care. “First, we determine age, sex, and length,” he says.
“He is currently in the putrefaction stage due to the water.”
In the hospital parking lot of the eastern Libyan city of Derna, the concluding details of one of the city’s numerous victims are being meticulously recorded.
This is now one of the most important and distressing tasks in the area. After a week in the ocean, the male has become unrecognizable. That morning, his corpse washed up on the shore.
Expert hands probe delicately, searching for identifying markers and collecting a DNA sample. This is essential, in case he has a living family who wishes to claim him.
According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 10,000 individuals are still officially listed as missing.
The Red Crescent has issued its identification numbers.
The United Nations estimates the current mortality toll to be approximately 11,300. Uncertainty surrounds the final tally, but one thing is certain: the magnitude of this catastrophe.
Mohammed Miftah is convinced in his heart that his relatives are among the victims.
After the floods, when he went to locate his sister and her husband at their home, it had been washed away.
Since then, he has heard nothing from them. He showed me a video he recorded of his front door being flooded by brown water as the torrent ascended.
A vehicle is carried by the current and wedges into the open space, completely obstructing it.
“When I saw cars approaching, I ran out of the building,” he recalls.
“I thought I was going to perish at that point. Our neighbors could be seen waving torches. In a matter of seconds, the lights went out and disappeared.
That was the most difficult task.
The Health Minister of the eastern Libyan government has also announced that four Greek rescue workers were slain in an accident on the road to Derna as international aid begins to arrive in earnest.
Another fifteen were injured. They were en route to join French and Italian teams already on the ground.
Additionally, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have flown in tonnes of additional supplies.
The next stage is to ensure that they are utilized correctly and fairly.
Abdullah Bathily, the head of the UN’s International Support Mission in Libya, said that the country must now establish a transparent system for managing all international donations.
It stems from the well-known difficulties in coordinating between the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the unrecognized government in eastern Libya.
Back in the center of Derna, there are a few bright spots among the sludge and rubble that have engulfed the city.
On one street corner, hundreds of colorful garments are strewn about in heaps.
Also a long queue forms across the street as petroleum is distributed to survivors.
As the donations keep coming, one man approaches and places a box of warm scarves at the feet of an elderly woman.
He gently kisses her head as she beams and begins to select one.
These are Libyans assisting Libyans during one of their darkest hours.