Angry demonstrators set mayor's residence ablaze over Derna flooding
The repercussions of the flood that resulted from the collapse of two dams in the hills surrounding the city of Derna, eastern Libya, continue to unfold.
On Monday, demonstrations erupted in the city of Derna, Libya, as hundreds of people expressed frustration toward the authorities. They were demanding accountability one week after a devastating flood claimed the lives of thousands of residents and wiped out entire neighborhoods, with thousands still reported missing.
Later in the evening, angry demonstrators set ablaze the residence of Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi, who had served as Derna's mayor during the flood, as confirmed by his office manager to Reuters.
Hichem Abu Chkiouat, a minister within the eastern Libyan government, has announced the suspension of al-Ghaithi from his position.
The protest that took place on Monday has been considered the initial significant demonstration to occur following the flood.
The devastating flood occurred when two dams in the hills surrounding the city collapsed during a severe storm, leading to a catastrophic deluge.
Demonstrators also directed their rage at authorities, including Aguila Saleh, the leader of the eastern-based Libyan parliament, as they protested outside al-Sahaba mosque. A few protesters even perched on the rooftop facing its iconic golden dome, a notable landmark in Derna.
The government in eastern Libya has reported that Prime Minister Usama Hamad has removed all the members of Derna's municipal council from their positions and has referred them for a formal investigation.
“Aguila we don’t want you. All Libyans are brothers,” protesters shouted out.
They also advocated for a sense of national unity in a nation that has been deeply divided due to over ten years of turmoil and political disarray.
This is happening as the complete extent of the casualties remains uncertain, with authorities reporting significantly different death counts. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, over 11,300 individuals have died, and more than 10,000 are still unaccounted for. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has officially documented 3,922 fatalities.
In the previous week, Saleh attempted to divert responsibility away from the authorities by characterizing the flood as an "unprecedented natural catastrophe." He suggested that people should refrain from fixating on what could have been done differently.
However, analysts have drawn attention to prior warnings, including a research paper published by a hydrologist last year. This paper outlined the city's susceptibility to floods and emphasized the critical need to maintain the dams that served as protective barriers.