The French newspaper "Le Monde" said that the official number announced for the victims of Hurricane "Daniel" amounted to 3875 dead, but the control of information and the prohibition of access to several places increase the suspicions and anger of the population, and one of them wondered about the secret of hiding information? And are they afraid of being prosecuted abroad for negligence if the real losses come out?
The newspaper explained – in a report by its special envoy to Libya, Majid Zerrougui – that Derna, two weeks after the passage of Hurricane "Daniel", is no longer anything but pain, as the population is physically and psychologically exhausted, and they find in front of them only bankrupt institutions in a country divided between two governments, each of which is trying to get rid of any responsibility in the face of the tragedy, each of the government of the West - which is recognized by the international community - and the government of the East has its own departments and militias, which makes the coordination of aid very complicated.
The truth – as the correspondent says – is that the relief operations were carried out on the shoulders of an army of civilian volunteers, coming from all over the country in convoys from villages and cities, digging with their bare hands and shovels in a sea of mud and rubble in search of survivors and corpses, while the survivors wander in the streets shocked, waiting for news of their loved ones who were swept away by the waves by the thousands.
However, the number of bodies identified is not accurately available, increasing and decreasing according to contradictory statements by the authorities, which means that most of the victims – whether buried or "missing" – are condemned to remain anonymous, which is unlikely and painful for the living who have to travel about 20 kilometers to reach the mass grave in Derna, an isolated place far from the city that symbolizes the confusion and ambiguity surrounding the number of deaths.
Although the official toll has changed only slightly over the past week after authorities announced 3875,120 deaths on Monday, dozens of unidentified people were buried here, and 21 were buried in the hours leading up to our visit on September <>, the newspaper's envoy says.
Sheikh Salah (a member of an official religious establishment in Benghazi who turned gravediggers in Derna) says, "On the first day we had to bury more than 1000,<> people here because of the state of emergency. Because the daily number of victims imposes the need to resort to mass burials, which indicates - according to the correspondent - what happens in many areas when residents hastily bury many bodies without counting them, especially since there is a lot of talk when it comes to difficulties, but silence prevails when the question arises about the number of people buried in the field.
Closed military zone
150 kilometers from Derna in Jindoula, the responsibility for collecting the bodies lies with the small local dispensary, where the bodies are brought from the Jarjar coast where they are regularly thrown at by the waves, but the only road there is closed by two pickup trucks equipped with anti-aircraft guns, soldiers say that "the area is military and entry is prohibited", so the gray areas surrounding the results and the desire of authorities in the east to control information and prevent access to certain places continue to fuel anger among people.
On 18 September, hundreds of residents gathered to protest the authorities' negligence, specifically demanding an international investigation and the dismissal of the speaker of the eastern Libyan parliament, Aguila Saleh. A member of the neighborhood committee in the city of Derna says, "Only 4000,<> dead? Who are they laughing at? Are they afraid of being prosecuted abroad for negligence if the real losses come up?"
Le Monde's envoy concluded that the story of the two dams that collapsed, leading to a tsunami, tells of years of negligence and corruption, as the Hydraulic Works Department reported cracks as early as 1998, and in 2021 the review showed that the maintenance of the two dams did not take place despite the regular allocation of funds for this purpose, and accordingly, the Attorney General ordered on September 25 the pretrial detention of 8 officials, including the mayor of the city.