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Hundreds Reported Dead in Severe Libya Flooding

Deadly floods swept through northeastern Libya over the weekend, with the top official in the region warning that the toll could exceed 2,000 dead as rescue teams searched for survivors.

The Libyan Red Crescent, a nonprofit aid group whose volunteers had helped evacuate residents, said late on Monday that more than 300 people had died in the floods in the port city of Derna in eastern Libya. And more than 5,000 to 6,000 were missing because of floods in the city, apparently caused by the collapse of dams above Derna, according to a spokesman for the Libyan National Army that controls eastern Libya said, according to The Associated Press.

Exact figures on the scale of fatalities were difficult because of ongoing search efforts on Monday, a spokesman for authorities in that region said on Monday evening.

Libya has been divided between an internationally recognized government based in Tripoli and a separately administered region in the east.

It was not immediately clear what the head of the divided country’s eastern region, Osama Hamad, or the military spokesman, Ahmed Mismari, were basing their numbers on. But the flooding was centered in the region under Mr. Hamad’s administration, with parts of it declared a disaster zone in the aftermath and rescuers struggling to gain access to the area to provide help.

The internationally recognized authority in western Libya, in Tripoli, did not put out fatality figures, but its leaders held an emergency meeting on Monday on the crisis and said they had sent ambulances, rescue convoys and doctors to the area. They declared three days of mourning for the victims of the flooding.

For years, Libya has been fractured between the two rival governments and prime ministers — and the militias they control.

Heavy rainfall over the weekend in the country’s northeast swelled waters past riverbanks and officials said the force of the floodwaters swept away hundreds of homes and washed away roads. Stranded residents posted accounts of being trapped inside homes and cars, according to footage on social media.

“Entire neighborhoods have been swept away by the sea, and entire neighborhoods have disappeared with their inhabitants,” Mr. Hamad said in a phone interview with the Libyan television channel al-Masar on Monday from Derna, among one of the worst-hit cities.

The flooding also ravaged other areas, including the cities of Al-Bayda and Shahhat, where the rising waters forced more evacuations. One medical center in Al-Bayda said it had been forced to move patients, and it shared footage of workers desperately to sweep floodwaters outside of submerged hallways.

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