The leader of Libya has stated that the flooded city has been partitioned to establish protective zones in the event of disease outbreaks.

DERNA, Libya (AP) — The prime minister of Libya’s eastern administration said Tuesday that authorities have divided the flood-stricken city of Derna into four sections to create buffers in case of disease outbreaks, a day after thousands of angry protesters demanded the city’s rapid reconstruction.

During the recent Mediterranean storm Daniel, two dams in Derna collapsed, resulting in a sudden surge of water. The death toll reported by government officials and aid agencies varied between approximately 4,000 and 11,000.

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On Tuesday morning, local media reported an internet outage in the eastern part of the country.

The United Nations issued a warning on Monday, stating that the occurrence of a disease outbreak could lead to another severe crisis.

On Monday, a large group of Libyan demonstrators assembled in the central area of Derna. This marked the first major protest following the flood incident. Thousands of people gathered outside the al-Shabana mosque, demanding a prompt investigation into the disaster, immediate city reconstruction, and other requests.

On Monday evening, the former mayor of the city, Abdel-Moneim al-Gaithi, said his home was set on fire by protesters. Public prosecutors opened an investigation on Saturday into the collapse of the two dams, built in the 1970s, as well as the allocation of maintenance funds for them. That same day al-Gaithi was suspended pending the investigation.

Many of the city’s residents see politicians as the architects of the crisis. The country has been divided between rival administrations since 2014. Both are backed by international patrons and armed militias whose influence in the country has ballooned since a NATO-backed Arab Spring uprising toppled autocratic ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Both authorities have sent teams focused on humanitarian efforts to the city, but they have faced difficulties in effectively addressing the extensive disaster. The recovery process, aided by international teams, has been lacking in proper coordination, and residents have reported uneven distribution of aid.

Different official bodies have released contradictory death tolls and statistics.

Bashir Omar, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Tuesday search and rescue teams were still retrieving bodies from under the rubble of wrecked buildings and from the sea. He told The Associated Press that the fatalities are “in the thousands,” but didn’t give a specific toll for retrieved bodies, explaining that there are many groups involved in collecting them.

Last week, Libya’s Red Crescent reported that a minimum of 11,300 individuals have lost their lives and another 10,000 are unaccounted for. However, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which initially reported the same number of fatalities, is now stating significantly lower figures, with approximately 4,000 deaths and 9,000 people missing.


This report was contributed to by Jack Jeffery, a writer for the Associated Press based in London, and Samy Magdy in Cairo.

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