The United Nations said on Thursday that most of the thousands of deaths from flooding in Libya could have been averted if early warning and emergency management systems had worked properly.
With better coordination in the crisis-hit country, “they could have issued the warnings and the emergency services could have carried out the evacuation of people and we could have avoided most of the human casualties,” said Petteri Taalas, head of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization said reporters in Geneva.
His comments came after a tsunami-sized flash flood hit eastern Libya over the weekend, killing at least 4,000 people.
The enormous flood of water burst two river dams upstream and turned the city of Derna into an apocalyptic wasteland, with entire city blocks and countless people washed into the Mediterranean.
Taalas said the lack of weather forecasting and dissemination as well as early warning measures contributed significantly to the scale of the disaster.
The years-long internal conflict that has rocked the country has resulted in its meteorological “observation network being severely damaged and IT systems destroyed,” he said.
“The floods came and there was no evacuation because there were no appropriate early warning systems.”
If evacuations had taken place, the number of people would have been far smaller, he said.
“Of course, we cannot completely avoid economic losses, but we could have minimized these losses by providing appropriate services,” he said.
Libya’s National Meteorological Center (NMC) had already issued warnings about the extreme weather 72 hours in advance and notified government authorities by email, urging them to take preventative measures.
However, the WMO said it was “not clear whether (the warnings) were disseminated effectively.”
There used to be close cooperation between weather services and disaster management across Libya, but this is no longer the case, it said.
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Source : www.ndtv.com