Libya says Derna mayor, other officials detained after flood

BENGHAZI (Reuters) – The mayor of Libya’s eastern city of Derna was detained along with other officials on suspicion of mismanagement and negligence over the collapse of dams that flooded the city two weeks ago, Libya’s attorney general’s office said on Monday.

The attorney general’s office, based in the capital Tripoli, said it had issued orders to detain eight local officials over the collapse of dams in a storm, which unleashed the torrent that swept neighbourhoods into the sea, killing thousands.

Those detained included the mayor and an official in charge of water resources, it said, without identifying them.

Angry residents have blamed the authorities for the collapse of the dams, which had been built to hold back the flow into the seasonal riverbed running through the city.

A 2007 contract to repair the dams was never completed amid civil war that began with the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Derna was controlled until 2019 by fighters from a series of groups including Islamic State.

Demonstrators torched the home of mayor Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi last week, and the administration in the east of the country said he was suspended and the entire city council was sacked.

Thousands of people are confirmed dead from the floods and thousands more are still missing, with whole buildings washed out to sea. International rescue teams continue efforts to recover bodies from under the rubble and in the city’s port, with hopes of finding survivors dwindling.

The flood and rescue effort have also exposed friction between the central government and a rival administration that controls the east of the country and does not recognise the authorities in Tripoli.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfali; Writing by Tarek Amara; Editing by Peter Graff)