Libyan flood survivors weigh water shortages against landmine risk

LIBYA : People whose homes were swept away by flooding in Libya’s eastern city of Derna a week ago faced the dilemma on Sunday of whether to stay despite a lack of fresh water or flee through areas where landmines have been displaced by the torrents.

Thousands of people are feared to have died after two dams above Derna broke on Sept. 10, bringing down residential blocks lining a usually dry river bed as people slept. Many bodies were washed out to sea and more than 1,000 have already been buried in mass graves, according to the United Nations.

Sunrise on Sunday revealed a scene of quiet devastation, with piles of rubble cleared to the sides of empty roads along with tangled metal including pieces of wrecked cars.

Hamad Awad sat on a blanket on an empty street with a bottle of water and bedding alongside him.

“I am staying in our area trying to clean it and trying to verify who is missing,” he said. “Thank God for giving us patience.”

Entire districts of Derna, with an estimated population of at least 120,000, were swept away or buried in brown mud. State media said at least 891 buildings had been destroyed in the city, whose mayor has said 20,000 people may have died.

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