2,300 dead, many missing as flash floods hit Libya city


Context: At least 2,300 people were killed and thousands were reported missing in Libya after catastrophic flash floods broke river dams and tore through an eastern coastal city.



Reasons for floods in Libya

  • The floods were caused by torrential rains from Storm Daniel, which made landfall in Libya on Sunday.
  • Derna, 250 km east of Benghazi, is ringed by hills and bisected by what is normally a dry riverbed in summer, but which has turned into a raging torrent of mud-brown water that also swept away several major bridges.
  • Massive destruction shattered the city of Derna, home to about 1,00,000 people, where multi-storey buildings on the river banks collapsed and houses and cars vanished in the raging waters.


Libyan emergency services reported an initial death toll of more than 2,300 in Derna alone, and said over 5,000 people remained missing while about 7,000 were injured


About Flash Floods


  • According to the US’s meteorological agency, the National Weather Service, flash floods are caused when rainfall creates flooding in less than 6 hours.
  • Excessive or continuous rainfall over a period of days or during particular seasons, can lead to stagnation of water and cause flooding.


Factors responsible for flash floods

  • Apart from heavy rain, flash floods can also be caused by 
    • dam or levee failures,
    • ice or debris jams, or 
    • sudden release of water from natural reservoirs such as glacial lakes.
  • In India, flash floods are often associated with cloudbursts – sudden, intense rainfall in a short period of time.
  • Factors such as the intensity and duration of rainfall, the steepness of terrain, the nature of the soil, and the presence of man-made structures that impede water flow are also responsible for flash floods.



Early warning systems, including weather monitoring, river gauges, and emergency alerts, play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of flash floods.


Imp for: UPSC Prelims, UPSC GS Mains Paper I, UPSC GS Mains Paper III

Topic: Floods, Disaster Management





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