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Mourning for Libya

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    Damage from flooding is seen in Derna, Libya. (AP/Yousef Murad)
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    Toys are scattered outside a damaged house in Derna, Libya. (AP/Yousef Murad)
  • 1 Libya AP23257222348355
  • 2 Libya AP23257528420400


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UPDATE: Since the writing of this News Byte, the death toll has been revised to about 4,000. Those missing are estimated at over 9,000. 

If you look at a map, Libya is to the left of Egypt. It borders the lower central area of the Mediterranean Sea. Flooding is not uncommon in Libya during the rainy season. But Mediterranean storm Daniel caused a staggering level of destruction and loss last week.

The storm was dubbed a “medicane” for its hurricane-like qualities. It drew intense energy from warm sea water. A warmer atmosphere also holds more water vapor that falls as rain. The storm dumped extreme amounts of rain on Libya in a short time.

Two dams collapsed during the storm on Monday. A wall of water raged down a valley. The city of Derna was hardest hit. Over 10,000 people are missing and about 11,000 died in the tragedy. The loss of several city bridges make relief efforts more difficult.

Jesus expressed anger and sorrow over death and its impact on those He loved. Consider His response to Mary and others grieving Lazarus’ death. He “was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.” And He wept. (John 11:33-35) It’s appropriate to grieve alongside those who are experiencing loss, to pray for comfort, and to give as one is able, whether in assistance or financial resources.

Libya’s unstable government also needs prayers for wisdom. The country has been split since 2014 between rival governments in the east and west. A variety of military forces and international allies back the competing parties.

For now, government agencies are joining hands in the aftermath of the disaster. Teams work together to search for survivors.

Heaps of twisted metal and flooded cars litter Derna’s streets. The landscape is covered in mud. Adel Ayad is a survivor. He watched waters rise to the fourth floor of his building.

Libyan authorities plan to evacuate Derna’s residents so search-and-rescue teams can work efficiently. Health officials are concerned that standing water could become contaminated. Residents need access to clean drinking water.

Another problem is that landmines are buried beneath the mud. Some leftover explosives in Libya date back to World War II, but most are from the civil conflict that began in 2011. The flooding likely swept explosive devices to new areas difficult to track.

Pray for God’s protection over search teams and civilians. May this tragedy draw political leaders together. May God lead them, and may they serve their country with wisdom and grace.