A QUARTER of the city of Derna in Libya has been destroyed by a catastrophic flood in which 15,000 people are feared to have died.
A major dam collapse wreaked havoc as a tsunami-like torrent unleashed huge amounts of water, mud and debris on locals.
Over 5,000 people have died so far according to local media, but 10,000 more are missing after “entire neighbourhoods” were swept out to sea.
Storm Daniel barrelled into the city on Sunday, which has a population of around 125,000, blasting citizens with a terrifying wall of water.
Libyan reporter Johr Ali told the BBC survivors were living in scenes of “doomsday” devastation.
Government minister Hichem Abu Chkiouat said after visiting Derna: “Bodies are lying everywhere – in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”
Corpses have been seen laid out along streets and hospital corridors as distraught families scour the city for their loved ones.
Mohamad al-Qabisi, director of the Wahda Hospital, said 1,700 were already confirmed dead in one of the city’s two districts and 500 in the other.
It was the second major disaster to strike North Africa in three days following the devastating earthquake in Morocco.
Hisham Chkiouat, aviation minister part of the government’s emergency response committee, previously told the BBC that large parts of the city had been dragged into the sea.
“I was shocked by what I saw, it’s like a tsunami,” he said.
“A massive neighbourhood has been destroyed – there is a large number of victims, which is increasing each hour.
“Currently 1,500 dead. More than 2,000 missing. We don’t have accurate figures but it’s a calamity,” he said, adding that the dam had not been maintained properly for some time.
Libya, in crisis following a decade of civil war, is politically divided between east and west.
Public services have crumbled since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising that prompted years of unrest.
The internationally-recognised government in Tripoli does not control eastern areas, where Derna is located.
The three-person Presidential Council in Tripoli which functions as a head of state asked the international community to help.
Mr Chkiouat then confirmed aid was on its way and the eastern administration would accept help from the Tripoli government.
A plane has been sent with 14 tonnes of medical supplies, body bags and more than 80 doctors and paramedics.
Turkey is among some of the countries who have also sent aid to help, including search and rescue vehicles, rescue boats, generators and food, Reuters reports.
After pummelling Greece last week, Storm Daniel swept in over the Mediterranean on Sunday.
Swamping roads and destroying buildings in Derna and hitting other settlements along the coast, the storm also pummelled Libya’s second biggest city of Benghazi.
Videos of Derna showed a wide torrent running through the city centre where a far narrower waterway had previously flowed.
The ruins of collapsed buildings stood on either side.
Eastern Libya’s Almostkbal TV broadcast footage which showed desperate civilians stranded on the roofs of their vehicles calling for help.
“The missing are in the thousands, and the dead exceed 2,000,” Osama Hamad told al-Masar TV.
“Entire neighbourhoods in Derna have disappeared, along with their residents swept away by water.”
Derna resident Saleh al-Obaidi said he had managed to flee with his family, though houses in a valley near the city had collapsed.
“People were asleep and woke up and found their homes surrounded by water,” he told Reuters.
Ahmed Mohamed, another resident, said: “We were asleep, and when we woke up, we found water besieging the house.
“We are inside and trying to get out.”
Witnesses said the water level had reached ten feet.
Libya’s eastern-based parliament declared three days of mourning.
Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, prime minister of the interim government in Tripoli, also declared three days of mourning in all the affected cities, calling them “disaster areas”.