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Libya floods 2023: tsunami-like floods cause a devastating humanitarian disaster 

Storm Daniel caused catastrophic floods in north-east Libya on 10 September 2023. Libyan Red Crescent was first on the ground evacuating people, providing first aid and carrying out search and rescue.


  • Storm Daniel made landfall on 10 September triggering devastating floods
  • Two dams near Derna burst, causing catastrophic damage and killing thousands
  • Libyan Red Crescent distributed clean water and sanitation kits to help prevent disease from the dirty flood waters

Last updated 28 March 2024

On 10 September 2023, unprecedented flooding in Libya was caused by Storm Daniel and the collapse of two dams near the city of Derna.

The north-eastern cities of Benghazi, Sousa and Al-Marj were also badly affected by the disaster.

Many people lost everything. Homes, buildings and entire neighbourhoods were swept away by the floods. Thousands are mourning loved ones.

The Libyan Red Crescent was there to offer humanitarian aid from the first hour of the disaster, providing first aid, supporting with rescues and evacuating families. 

Libya floods: how it happened

Storm Daniel hit Libya on Sunday 10 September, causing severe weather conditions including intense winds and sudden heavy rainfall.

The flooding affected widespread areas in north-eastern Libya including the towns of Derna, Benghazi, Tobruk, Almari and Sousa. Many of the affected places were hard to reach and communication was cut off.

Libya floods: map of affected area

Libya floods: before and after images

How have we helped people in Libya?

The Libyan Red Crescent has been responding since the first hours of the emergency. 

With no clean drinking water in parts of Derna, Red Cross Red Crescent teams supplied bottled water and hygiene products to stop the spread of disease. Teams also:

  • distributed aid that was provided from across Libya and around the world
  • recovered the bodies of people trapped under the rubble, along the coastline and in flooded towns and villages
  • provided psychological support to traumatised people.

The Libyan Red Crescent were supported by the wider Red Cross Movement:

  • The Norwegian Red Cross conducted a health and hygiene assessment to monitor the risk and spread of disease.
  • The Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay), arrived in Libya with tents, blankets, sleeping bags and generators.
  • The Kuwait Red Crescent provided food, medical materials and hygiene kits.

What caused the floods in Libya?

When rain brought by Storm Daniel swelled the Wadi Derna river, which runs from Libya’s inland Akhdar Mountains, it burst two dams near the city of Derna.

Once a bustling port city of 100,000 people, entire neighbourhoods are thought to have been swept away.

It's thought that the floods were down to a strong-low pressure system which took hold of the Mediterranean last week. This turned into Storm Daniel, a tropical-like cyclone called a medicane.

Professor Liz Stephens, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and the University of Reading, says:

"Medicanes such as Storm Daniel are relatively rare and tend to occur more frequently in the Mediterranean Sea than the arid Libyan coastline.

She says that scientists believe climate change is supercharging the rains that accompany medicanes like Storm Daniel.

"Climate change is thought to be increasing the frequency of the strongest medicanes, and we are confident that climate change is supercharging the rainfall associated with such storms."

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