Search teams combed streets, wrecked buildings, and even the sea Wednesday to look for bodies in a coastal Libyan city where the collapse of two dams unleashed a massive flash flood that killed at least 5,100 people.
The Mediterranean city of Derna has struggled to get help after Sunday night’s deluge washed away most access roads. Aid workers who managed to reach the city described the devastation in its centre, with thousands still missing and tens of thousands left homeless.
“Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children,” Emad al-Falah, an aid worker from Benghazi, said over the phone from Derna. “Entire families were lost.”
Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding Sunday in many towns of eastern Libya, but the worst hit was Derna. Two dams in the mountains above the city collapsed, sending floodwaters roaring down the Wadi Derna River and through the city centre, sweeping away entire city blocks.
As much as a quarter of the city has disappeared, emergency officials said.
Waves rose as high as seven metres (23 feet), Yann Fridez, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya, told broadcaster France24.
Teacher Mohammed Derna said he, his family and neighbours rushed to the roof of their apartment building, stunned at the volume of water rushing by. It reached the second storey of many buildings, he said. They watched people below, including women and children being washed away.
“They were screaming, ‘Help, help,’” he said over the phone from a field hospital in Derna. “It was like a Hollywood horror movie.”
Derna lies on a narrow coastal plain, under steep mountains. The only two usable roads from the south take a winding route through the mountains.
Collapsed bridges over the river split the city centre, further hampering movement.
Search teams went through shattered apartment buildings and retrieved the dead floating offshore in the Mediterranean Sea, al-Falah said.
Full Speech of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for Nigeria’s 63RD Independence Day Anniversary
“It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.
“On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers. Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria. From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication, and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.
“Let us, at this very moment, affirm that, as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings. No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us.
The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.
“Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions, and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal.
“We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony, and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.
“Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge.
“Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands, and here we shall remain.
“This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.
“At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty, and property of the people.
“I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment.
“Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp.
“I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.
“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future in Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty, and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.
“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.
“My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.
“We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property, and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“Based on our talks with labour, business, and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.
“To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.
“Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.
“New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.
“This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.
“I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
“Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.
“To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
“Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.
“My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.
“Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,
“We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth, and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.
“May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight?
“I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.
“I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.
“Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve a better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.
“I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!
“I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary. Thank you for listening. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Nigeria@63: Ganduje urges Nigerians to sustain faith in Tinubu
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Ganduje, has urged Nigerians not to despair, reassuring them that President Bola Tinubu will deliver the good governance and dividends of democracy he promised.
This was contained in the goodwill message issued in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Edwin Olofu, to celebrate the nation’s 63rd Independence anniversary.
The development is coming barely 24 hours after Ganduje appointed the immediate past Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, as chairman of a nine-man committee to intervene in the lingering feud between Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
In his goodwill message on Saturday, the APC national chairman called on the citizenry to remain hopeful, adding that measures already put in place by the APC-led administration would reposition the country to achieve growth and development.
He said, “Without a doubt, you will agree with me that the journey has not been without obstacles. It has been characterised by opportunities, prospects and challenges including a three-year civil war which has brought out the resilient Nigerian spirit of perseverance, industry and abiding faith in the country.
“As a party, let me restate that the APC will remain true to its promises and pledges to the people. None of these promises I repeat, will escape our attention and none will be treated lightly. The present administration led by President Bola Tinubu is ready to live up to the Renewed Hope manifesto to reposition Nigeria towards sustainable growth, development and economic prosperity.
“Fortunately he has hit the ground running to fix the infrastructural and economic reversals of the previous years. Under this administration, Nigerians can be rest assured that it will be fine again and your worries will soon be a thing of the past.
“There will be sufficient jobs with decent wages, medicare, housing and other basic infrastructure that can guarantee the citizenry a better life. At this juncture, let me recognise and appreciate the immeasurable contributions, efforts, sacrifices and patriotism of our founding fathers, their vision, courage and perseverance laid the foundation for the emergence of this great and inspiring nation called Nigeria.”
JUST IN: Police grill Sam Larry, Lagos CP to address press
The Lagos State Police Command has deepened its probe of Lagos socialite, Balogun Eletu aka Sam Larry, over the ongoing investigation into circumstances leading to the death of late Singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba aka Mohbad.
Sam Larry was detained by the police on Thursday night after he honoured the police invitation, and has since been grilled by police investigators over his disagreements with the late musician.
Our correspondent gathered that the suspect who is currently detained at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters and was yet to hire the services of a lawyer over the incident as of Saturday, is very much likely to remain in police custody until next week Monday.
A security source who preferred anonymity also revealed that police officers arrested Sam Larry at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Thursday night following his arrival from Kenya.
“Sam Larry was arrested by policemen at the Murtala Muhammed airport last night (Thursday) after he arrived from Kenya, and he was immediately driven to the Lagos Command Headquarters in Ikeja for questioning,” the source noted.
Speaking with our correspondent in an exclusive interview, Friday night, the Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin revealed that the outcome of the police investigation would determine the decision to be taken on Sam Larry.
The police spokesman further noted that he could not reveal details of the controversial socialite’s statement to the police, adding that the Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa will address the press about the development soon.
Hundeyin revealed, “Sam Larry is still with us. But I’m not talking about our plans yet because he’s still under investigation, hence the outcome of our investigation will determine the lifeline of our next move.
“I’m not disclosing the content of his statement yet; the Commissioner of Police will address the press over the development soon, and when the CP addresses the press, I’d be able to talk about our investigation so far.”
Earlier Thursday night, SP Hundeyin had revealed that Sam Larry was held in police custody, and was assisting with an ongoing investigation.
The police had earlier invited Sam Larry and singer, Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley for questioning over Mohbad’s demise.
The police, last week, also confirmed that pathologists have concluded the autopsy conducted on Mohbad, while the police await the result.
“Autopsy has been concluded. Awaiting results”, Hundeyin confirmed.
This development followed the exhumation of Mohbad by a combined team of the Nigeria Police Force and health officials.
The police had also arrested the nurse who reportedly injected the deceased singer prior to his demise on Tuesday, September 12.
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