Libya investigates collapse of two dams after devastating flood killed over 11,000

Libya investigates collapse of two dams after devastating flood killed over 11,000
Fire and rescue brigades search for survivors through the rubble of a building that collapsed during floods after the Mediterranean storm "Daniel" hit Libya's eastern city of Derna, on September 14, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 17 September 2023
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Libya investigates collapse of two dams after devastating flood killed over 11,000

Libya investigates collapse of two dams after devastating flood killed over 11,000
  • Searchers still digging through mud and hollowed-out buildings, looking for bodies and possible survivors

DERNA, Libya: Libyan authorities have opened an investigation into the collapse of two dams that caused a devastating flood in a coastal city as rescue teams searched for bodies on Saturday, nearly a week after the deluge killed more than 11,000 people.
Heavy rains caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding across eastern Libya last weekend. The floods overwhelmed two dams, sending a wall of water several meters (yards) high through the center of Derna, destroying entire neighborhoods and sweeping people out to sea.
More than 10,000 are missing, according to the Libyan Red Crescent. Six days on, searchers are still digging through mud and hollowed-out buildings, looking for bodies and possible survivors. The Red Crescent has confirmed 11,300 deaths so far.
Claire Nicolet, who heads the emergencies department of the Doctors Without Borders aid group, said rescuers found “a lot of bodies” on Friday and were still searching. “It was a big number ... the sea is still ejecting lots of dead bodies unfortunately,” she told The Associated Press.
She said massive aid efforts were still needed, including urgent psychological support for those who lost their families. She said the burial of bodies is still a significant challenge, despite some progress in coordinating search and rescue efforts and the distribution of aid.
Authorities and aid groups have voiced concern about the spread of waterborne diseases and shifting of explosive ordnance from Libya’s recent conflicts.
Libya’s General Prosecutor, Al-Sediq Al-Sour, said prosecutors would investigate the collapse of the two dams, which were built in the 1970s, as well as the allocation of maintenance funds. He said prosecutors would investigate local authorities in the city, as well as previous governments.
“I reassure citizens that whoever made mistakes or negligence, prosecutors will certainly take firm measures, file a criminal case against him and send him to trial,” he told a news conference in Derna late Friday.
It’s unclear how such an investigation can be carried out in the North African country, which plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. For most of the past decade, Libya has been split between rival administrations — one in the east, the other in the west — each backed by powerful militias and international patrons.

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One result has been the neglect of crucial infrastructure, even as climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent and severe.
Local officials in the city had warned the public about the coming storm and last Saturday ordered residents to evacuate coastal areas in Derna, fearing a surge from the sea. But there was no warning about the dams, which collapsed early Monday as most residents were asleep in their homes.
A report by a state-run audit agency in 2021 said the two dams had not been maintained despite the allocation of more than $2 million for that purpose in 2012 and 2013.
A Turkish firm was contracted in 2007 to carry out maintainance on the two dams and build another dam in between. The firm, Arsel Construction Company Limited, said on its website that it completed its work in November 2012. It did not respond to an email seeking further comment.
Local and international rescue teams were meanwhile working around the clock, searching for bodies and potential survivors in the city of 90,000 people.
Ayoub said his father and nephew died in Derna on Monday, a day after the family had fled flooding in the nearby town of Bayda. He said his mother and sister raced upstairs to the roof but the others didn’t make it. “I found the kid in the water next to his grandfather,” said Ayoub, who only gave his first name. “I am wandering around and I still don’t believe what happened.”
Al-Sour called on residents who have missing relatives to report to a forensic committee that works on documenting and identifying retrieved bodies.
“We ask citizens to cooperate and quickly proceed to the committee’s headquarters so that we can finish the work as quickly as possible,” he said.
Libyan authorities have restricted access to the flooded city to make it easier for searchers to dig through the mud and hollowed-out buildings for the more than 10,000 people still missing. Many bodies were believed to have been buried under rubble or swept out into the Mediterranean Sea, they said.
The storm hit other areas in eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa, Marj and Shahatt. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in the region and took shelter in schools and other government buildings.
Dozens of foreigners were among those killed, including people who had fled war and unrest elsewhere in the region. Others had come to Libya to work or were traveling through in hopes of migrating to Europe. At least 74 men from one village in Egypt perished in the flood, as well as dozens of people who had traveled to Libya from war-torn Syria.


Jordan sends 83 aid trucks to Gaza

Jordan sends 83 aid trucks to Gaza
Updated 15 sec ago
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Jordan sends 83 aid trucks to Gaza

Jordan sends 83 aid trucks to Gaza
  • Contents of the trucks include food parcels, blankets, clothes and health care supplies

AMMAN: Jordan announced that a convoy of 83 trucks containing humanitarian aid was headed to Gaza on Saturday, Jordan News Agency reported.

The contents of the trucks, including food parcels, blankets, clothes and health care supplies, will be distributed to Palestinian civilians via partner associations and organization in the Strip.

The convoy was sent by the Jordanian Armed Forces-Arab Army and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization. It was sent in collaboration with the World Food Programme and funded by the Helping Hand Society and Human Appeal.

JHCO Secretary-General Hussein Shibli highlighted the scale of Jordan’s aid initiative to Gaza, noting that the substantial donations from local, regional and international bodies underscored the trust Jordan commands globally and its capability to deliver aid effectively to the region.

Shibli said that to date, the number of trucks to have entered Gaza had reached 2,694, in addition to 53 planes via El-Arish in Egypt.
 


Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations

Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations
Updated 37 min 14 sec ago
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Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations

Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations
  • Market includes pavilions selling dates, traditional handicrafts, and popular Emirati cuisine

DUBAI: The UAE opened an Emirati market in Qingdao on Saturday as part of the UAE-China Friendship Festival, which ends Sunday.

The festival marks 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, showcasing a diverse array of Emirati products and arts to the Chinese public, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The market includes pavilions selling dates, traditional handicrafts, and popular Emirati cuisine. There is also an exhibition chronicling the development of relations between the UAE and China.

The festival also features a “comprehensive cultural program” that includes performances of traditional arts “celebrating the UAE's national identity,” as well as workshops.

This event is part of a broader series of activities in both countries aimed at “enhancing mutual understanding and fostering new opportunities for cooperation across various sectors,” according to WAM.
 


UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine
Updated 20 July 2024
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UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine
  • ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law, Albudaiwi says

DUBAI: The UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council have welcomed a ruling by the UN’s top court that Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory break international law.

The International Court of Justice issued the judgment, which is non-binding, on Friday.

The court ruled that “the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country rejected all measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status of occupied Palestine.

The ministry condemned practices that contravene international resolutions, warning that such actions “threaten further escalation and instability in the region, and hinder efforts to achieve peace and stability.” It also emphasized the importance of supporting initiatives to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as bringing an end to “Israel’s illegal practices that undermine an independent Palestinian state.”

GCC Secretary-General Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi said that the ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law and UN resolutions to reclaim territories occupied by Israel. He asserted that the settlement activities and geographic changes imposed by Israeli forces are “illegitimate and lack regional or international recognition.”

Albudaiwi reiterated that the Occupied Territories remain “the inherent right of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed the GCC’s steadfast support for the Palestinian cause, advocating for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The ICJ’s ruling comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating bombardment on Gaza, following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli settlements adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians consider those areas to be an integral part of any future independent state.

The ruling was also welcomed by Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World League.


 


Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence
Updated 20 July 2024
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Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence
  • The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) received in a 2015 electoral campaign
  • Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022

RABAT: Moroccan opposition figure and former minister Mohamed Ziane has been sentenced to five years in prison while serving a three-year term in another case, his lawyer said on Saturday.
The former Rabat bar association president was convicted on charges of “embezzlement and squandering of public funds,” the lawyer Ali Reda Ziane, who is also his son, told AFP.
The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) — of which Mohamed Ziane was founder and chief — received in a 2015 electoral campaign.
“This is a form of life sentence for an 81-year-old man while legally nothing has been proven,” said the lawyer, who plans to appeal the ruling.
Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022, after being sentenced the three years on appeal.
The opposition figure had become known in recent years for statements criticizing the authorities in Morocco, particularly the intelligence services.
He said he was being judged “because of his opinions.”
The proceedings follow an interior ministry complaint on seven counts, among them contempt of public officials and justice, insults against a constituted body, defamation, adultery and sexual harassment.
In the same case, the financial crimes chamber of the Rabat appeals court sentenced the PML treasurer and a party administrative employee to five years in prison and one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, respectively.


Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb
Updated 20 July 2024
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Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb
  • Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat
  • They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus”

GAZA: A Gaza hospital said Saturday it saved a baby boy from his mother’s womb after she died from wounds sustained in an Israeli strike.
Ola Adnan Harb Al-Kurd, who was nine months pregnant, barely survived a punishing night of missile strikes that rescue services across the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 24 people, including six members of the same family.
But by the time Kurd reached Al-Awda Hospital, she was “almost dead,” according to surgeon Akram Hussein.
Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat.
They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus,” the surgeon told AFP.
The newborn was initially in critical condition, but after receiving oxygen and medical attention was stabilized, said Raed Al-Saudi, head of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology department.
He was placed in an incubator and transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah.
Kurd was among three women and a child killed by an Israeli missile fired on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, according to a medical official at Al-Awda Hospital. Her husband was also wounded in the strike on the family home.
Israel has not confirmed individual strikes, but a military statement said troops were “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure sites” in central Gaza.
Israel has stepped up its offensive in several parts of the territory in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s order to increase pressure on Hamas following the Palestinian militants’ attacks on southern Israel on October 7.
One man was killed in a drone hit while riding a bicycle on a street near the southern city of Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Air strikes on two homes in Gaza City in the north each left six dead, according to the civil defense agency and paramedics.
Israel’s military statement said “troops eliminated a number of terrorists in several different encounters” and had launched an operation on the Tal Al-Sultan refugee camp near the southern city of Rafah.
The war in Gaza has made childbirth increasingly perilous, with pregnant women facing not only near-daily strikes that hamper access to health facilities, but also widespread food insecurity, degrading sanitary conditions and water scarcity.
The few hospitals that are still working have been stretched to breaking point, according to humanitarian groups.
Pre-term deliveries and maternal complications, including eclampsia, haemorrhage and sepsis, have been rising, Doctors Without Borders said this week.