By |16 Sep 2023 at 11:20 PM
Wadi Derna Dam Collapse: Has it Led to Flooding in Libya?

Wadi Derna Dam Collapse: Recently, a tragic event jolted Libya, as a massive flood ravaged numerous regions, particularly in and around Derna, a coastal city. The flood, which resulted from the failure of two dams and was exacerbated by a powerful storm system, caused over 5,300 deaths and left approximately 10,000 people unaccounted for. The first query that comes to mind is: what caused the flooding in Libya?

Derna confronted the wrath of nature as well as man-made weaknesses. A cyclone that affected not only Libya but also three other countries targeted the nation’s already fragile infrastructure. In addition, the two 230-foot-tall structures near Derna were inadequately fortified to withstand the storm’s force. When the first dam was breached, water accumulated behind the second dam, causing it to burst and intensifying the deluge.

A Summary of the Reasons for the Flooding in Libya

Storm SystemA potent storm from the Mediterranean affecting three countries, including Libya, on September 10, 2023.
Wadi Derna Dam FailureTwo dams, each 230 feet tall, near Derna collapsed under the storm’s pressure.
Infrastructure WeaknessDue to prolonged conflict, Libya’s infrastructure was already compromised, exacerbating the flood’s impact.
Vulnerable Geographical AreasThe city of Derna, being low-lying and surrounded by mountains, was especially susceptible to flooding.

The Storm System Repercussions

Wadi Derna Dam Collapse: The storm system that made landfall in the Mediterranean on September 10, 2023, delivered torrential rains and fierce winds. In addition to Libya, neighboring countries were affected by the storm, which caused extensive flooding and devastation.

However, Derna, which was located near the coast, was especially vulnerable. When combined with the dam failures, the adjacent mountains directed rainwater towards the city, creating a disastrous situation.

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Weak Dam Infrastructure

The two dams located near Derna in Libya were ill-equipped for such heavy precipitation. With a height of only 230 feet, they were not designed to withstand the storm’s onslaught. The failure of the first dam to contain the deluge caused the rapid flow of water towards the second dam, ultimately leading to its calamitous failure.

Destruction within Derna

Derna was inundated by a tidal surge of floodwaters after the dam broke. As entire neighborhoods were dragged into the ocean, the city witnessed horrifying scenarios. Over 5,300 people have been verified dead within the ruins, while a staggering 10,000 are still missing.

The aftermath of the destruction of the majority of the city presents an enormous humanitarian crisis. Citizens who have been displaced and are now homeless are in desperate need of food, water, and sanctuary.

Inadequate infrastructure and low-lying regions

The protracted conflict in Libya has significantly weakened its infrastructure. Roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure are in disrepair, making emergency response difficult. This context, along with the inundation, has exacerbated the crisis.

Furthermore, many regions in Libya, notably those affected, are low-lying. These areas were even more susceptible to inundation because they lacked efficient drainage systems and other protective infrastructures.

Additional Citations and Sources

An eminent economics expert, Mohamed Ahmed, stated, “The failure of the dams substantially exacerbated the devastation caused by the flooding. They were unable to withstand the force of the storm, culminating in a massive water release and extensive damage.”

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Georgette Gagnon, remarked on the humanitarian aspect, stating, “The flooding has caused a severe humanitarian crisis. Thousands have lost their residences and require immediate food, water, and shelter assistance.”

Ahmed continued, “This calamity has been a significant impediment to Libya’s recovery. Damage to infrastructure will impede economic recovery and the provision of essential services.”


Tragically, the flooding in Libya highlights the importance of robust infrastructure and effective disaster preparation. While the powerful typhoon was a natural disaster, the inability of the dams to contain the water exacerbated the situation. The subsequent challenge is not only reconstruction, but also the fortification and resilience of future infrastructures.


When exactly did the cyclone system strike Libya?

Libya was impacted by the cyclone system on September 10, 2023.

How many structures near Derna failed as a result of the flooding?

Two dams collapsed near the coastal city of Derna due to the tempest.

How many people are presumed deceased as a result of the flooding in Libya?

More than 5,300 people have been verified dead as a result of the flooding.

Why did Derna suffer disproportionately from the flood?

Derna’s proximity to the coast and mountainous surroundings made it particularly susceptible to the deluge.