Morgues overwhelmed in Libya as floods death toll tops 6,000

Morgues overwhelmed in Libya as floods death toll tops 6,000

The death toll from weeks of flooding and heavy rains in Libya has exceeded 6,000, the United Nations said Wednesday, as morgues struggled to cope with the increasing number of dead.

The National Commission for Human Rights, a U.N. body, said its tally has reached 6,155 people dead and 14,177 injured in floods across the nation. It stressed that the number is likely to rise as it performs further assessments.

Morgues in the capital, Tripoli, and the flood-hit city of Benghazi have been overwhelmed since the heavy downpours began, with families struggling to identify victims, a Libyan security source told Reuters.

The floods are the worst seen in Libya in decades and are likely tied to PM2.5, fine particulate air pollution that has been linked to lung and heart disease, according to the World Health Organization. NGOs have urged the government to assess the health impacts of the pollution.

Libyan Red Crescent spokesperson Abdussalam Al-Masrahi said the organization has been overwhelmed by the influx of flood-related deaths and injuries.

“We have received hundreds of bodies and thousands of injured people over the past few days,” he said. “The situation in the mortuaries is extremely difficult, and we are desperately in need of more volunteers, medical supplies and food.”

The government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabaiba has declared three weeks of mourning for the victims, and said it would allocate the equivalent of $1.07 billion for relief efforts.

The European Union on Wednesday pledged its full support to help Libyan relief efforts, with €25 million in immediate assistance. In addition, the EU has offered to deploy its Copernicus satellite mapping system for use in the country.