Trouble was looming. That much was clear.
For days, Libyans looked across the Mediterranean to Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, where a powerful storm had already killed more than a dozen people.
But when it got to the North African nation, disaster grew exponentially. Torrential rains swelled the waters behind two dams until they burst, inundating entire communities. More than 5,000 people were feared dead on Tuesday, and in the coastal city of Derna, entire neighborhoods were carried out to sea, the local authorities said.
The two dams that broke were near the city of Derna.
The city of Derna after the storm lifted.
In the city of Derna alone, at least 5,200 people died, one government official said.
Some fled Derna empty-handed — “as if they were born today, with nothing,” one Army official said.
Mourners gathering to pray in the capital, Tripoli. The photograph was released by the office of Libya’s Tripoli-based prime minister.
Checking bodies in Derna.
Some victims were placed into a communal grave in Derna.
Water unleashed by the dams poured through Derna, a city of roughly 100,000 people.
“What happened in Derna was beyond imaginable — you would never think of such torrential rain in a desert country.”
As Libyans struggled to reach their loved ones, social media groups were filled with inquiries from relatives of people in Derna.
Thousands of people have been displaced.
Destroyed roadways in Al-Mukhaili.
Derna was built on the ruins of an ancient Greek colony. Now much of it is in ruins itself.