Libya’s attorney general has ordered the pretrial detention of eight officials as part of an investigation into the collapse of two dams that led to deadly flooding in Derna on Sept. 10, his office said.
Storm Daniel struck the east of the country on the night of 10–11 September, particularly in Derna, a city of 100,000 inhabitants bordering the Mediterranean Sea, causing two upstream dams to burst and causing tsunami-sized flooding that carried away. everything is on its way. More than 3,800 people died and more than ten thousand were missing.
Residents of Derna, where entire neighborhoods were washed away by floods, protested on September 18, demanding that the authorities be held accountable. They, in particular, called for “a rapid investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the disaster.”
Among the eight Libyans whose detention the prosecutor ordered are seven people who hold or have held positions of responsibility in the department of water resources or dam management in Libya. The eighth is the mayor of Derna, Abdulmonem al-Ghaiti, who was fired along with the rest of the municipal council after the tragedy. Last week, protesters burned down his house.
Libyan Prosecutor General al-Seddiq al-Sour said on September 15 that he had launched an investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy. He said dam officials in Libya reported cracks in two structures in 1998, but no work was done to fix them.
“International” conference on Derna restoration?
A 2007 contract to repair the dams was never awarded amid the civil war that began with the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The investigation focused in particular on a contract between the Libyan water department and a Turkish company for the maintenance of two dams. dams and paying the latter “disproportionate amounts” in 2014, and this “although violated the obligations under the contract,” the prosecutor’s office said in a press release. Until 2019, Derna was controlled by militants from a number of groups, including the Islamic State.
According to a statement issued by his office on Monday, the investigation involves a total of 16 people with varying degrees of involvement in the management of dams in Libya.
According to a press release, eight people subject to the temporary detention order were heard on Sunday by the commission responsible for investigating the collapse of the two dams. The text states that the director of the dam management department and his predecessor “failed to deny their responsibility for the poor management of the administrative and financial tasks assigned to them.”
Libya has the richest oil reserves in Africa and is not short of resources. Authorities in eastern Libya – which is governed by two rival administrations – announced on Friday that they plan to organize an “international” conference on rebuilding the city on October 10 in Derna.