Aid starts to arrive in Libya but hopes of finding flood survivors fade


Shipments of international aid arrived in Libya on Saturday, offering a lifeline to thousands of people affected by devastating flash floods. But hopes of finding more survivors are dwindling.

Floods last Sunday submerged the port city of Derna, washing thousands of people and homes out to sea. Triggered by a hurricane-strength storm, torrential rains caused two upstream dams to burst and release a surge of water.

Conflicting death tolls have been reported, with estimates ranging from around 3,000 to over 5,000.

The World Health Organization said "the bodies of 3,958 people have been recovered and identified", with 9,000 more still missing, as it announced 29 tonnes of aid had arrived in the eastern city of Benghazi.

"This is a disaster of epic proportions," said Ahmed Zouiten, the WHO's Libya representative. "We are saddened by the unspeakable loss of thousands of souls."

The agency said it had flown in enough emergency aid to reach nearly 250,000 people, including essential medicines, surgery supplies and body bags for the deceased.

Saudi Arabia announced the departure of its first aid flight to Libya and Russia said the third of its aid flights had arrived carrying a mobile hospital.

An Italian naval ship docked in Derna with supplies including tents, blankets, water pumps and tractors, Italy's embassy in Libya said, posting photos of smaller vessels bringing equipment ashore.

'Everything washed away'

Derna resident Mohammad al-Dawali told French news agency AFP: "In this city, every single family has been affected."

(with newswires)

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