No fewer than 10,000 people were feared missing in Libya on Tuesday as floods caused by a devastating storm which burst dams and wiped out one-quarter of the eastern city of Derna.
The report from Reuters said that more than 1,000 bodies had already been recovered in Derna alone.
Officials were expecting the death toll to be much higher after Storm Daniel spread across the Mediterranean into a country crumbling from more than a decade of conflict.
Derna, a coastal city of around 125,000 inhabitants, experienced vehicles overturned on the edges of roads, trees knocked down and abandoned flooded houses.
Reacting to the havoc, Hichem Abu Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation and member of the emergency committee in the administration that controls the east, said corpses have littered the area.
“I returned from Derna. It is very disastrous. Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings,” Abu Chkiouat said.
“The number of bodies recovered in Derna is more than 1,000,” he said. “I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
The minister also said that he expected the total number of dead across the country to reach more than 2,500, as the number of missing people was rising.
Tamer Ramadan, head of a delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told reporters in Geneva via video link from Tunisia, “We can confirm from our independent sources of information that the number of missing people is hitting 10,000 so far.”