A week after the floods in Libya which officially left 3,300 dead according to the latest report, bodies are still being discovered every day and emergency services continue to work hard. Most of these rescuers are based in al-Bayda, located about a hundred kilometers from Derna.
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With our special envoy to al-Bayda, Mathieu Galtier
Al-Bayda has become a real strategic crossroads for relief and for the wounded. The city was in fact saved by its altitude. Built 500 meters above the sea, the fourth city in the eastern region of the country was relatively spared by storm Daniel.
It is also here that many residents of Derna, the most affected port city, have found refuge for a week. There is water and electricity here. Al-Bayda appears to be the only town still standing within a hundred kilometers around. Basic services are in working order.
The hospital, of which only the ground floor was flooded by the storm and which was able to reopen its doors 24 hours later, is now welcoming many injured people. In the street, residents and traders distribute water, food and medicine to the bereaved families of Derna. Drivers, usually not inclined to road courtesy, stop to let vehicles loaded with aid pass. Libyans from all over the country – as evidenced by the license plates – come and go on this road to bring mattresses, blankets, food or simply comfort.
A road that still bears the scars of torrential and deadly rains
The road leading to al-Bayda from Benghazi passes through villages that have been completely swept away. This is the case of Wardia where mud has replaced the homes, apart from sections of walls miraculously remaining standing and cables from electricity pylons littering the ground. At times, the asphalt has disappeared. Cars and vans then drive on dirt and rocks.
For the victims, al-Bayda serves as a welcome sanctuary. It is also the place where rescuers can enjoy a break taking advantage of the well-stocked cafes and shops.