Saturday September 30, 2023

Communications cut to flood-hit Libya city after protests

September 20, 2023

DERNA, Libya: Communications were severed on Tuesday to the flood-hit Libyan city of Derna and journalists were asked to leave, a day after hundreds protested against authorities they blamed for the thousands of deaths.

A tsunami-sized flash flood broke through two ageing river dams upstream from the city on the night of September 10 and razed entire neighbourhoods, sweeping untold thousands into the Mediterranean Sea.

Telephone and internet links provided by Libya´s two operators had been disconnected in Derna since 1:00 am on Tuesday (2300 GMT on Monday), a journalist said after getting out of the city.

Authorities had asked most journalists to leave Derna and hand over permits that had allowed them to cover the disaster, the same source said.

The restrictions came after protesters had massed at the city´s grand mosque, venting their anger at authorities they blamed for failing to maintain the dams or to provide early warning of the disaster.

“Thieves and traitors must hang,” they shouted, before some protesters torched the house of the town´s unpopular mayor. The national telecom company LPTIC said communications were down as a result of “a rupture in the optical fibre” link to Derna.