Libyan authorities have begun to vaccinate people against waterborne diseases in Derna as concerns grow that the flood hit city’s drinking water is not safe to consume.
As of Saturday September 16, 2023, at least 150 people have suffered from diarrhoea after drinking what is thought to be contaminated water in Derna, according to the head of Libya’s centre for combating diseases.
Residents are now being urged to only drink bottled water, which is being shipped in as part of relief efforts.
The rollout of vaccines comes after parts of eastern Libya were devastated last week by flooding, triggered by Mediterranean Storm Daniel.
More than 11,000 people have died in Derna alone after two dams burst on the outskirts of the city, sending a torrent of water which destroyed entire neighbourhoods and swept people out to sea.
The final death toll is expected to be significantly higher though as around 10,000 people of Derna’s 90,000 population still remain missing.
Othman Abduljaleel, eastern Libya’s Health Minister, said the vaccine rollout would start on Sunday and focus on recovery and health workers as well as children.
He said: “There are three target groups. The first category is the exhumation teams, the second category is the health sector worker, who are also exposed to all sources that may cause them health issues.
“The third category is the children, especially in the age group from one to 15 years.”
Authorities in Libya have now opened an investigation into the collapse of the two dams, although analysts have questioned how such a probe will be able to take place.
Libya has endured more than a decade of chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, in 2011.
The north African country now remains divided between two rival administrations: one in the east and one in the west, each backed by different militias and foreign governments.
Rescue efforts, meanwhile, are continuing to progress with search teams working around the clock to find survivors.
Libya’s western government has allocated the equivalent of $412 million (£353 million) for the reconstruction of Derna and other towns affected by the flooding.