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When the Dams in Libya Burst: A Natural or Preventable Disaster?

  • In the aftermath of massive flooding that killed some 20,000 people, Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini travelled to Libya to look into what caused the disaster and who might bear responsibility.

After visiting Derna and witnessing the devastation caused when the city’s two dams crumbled in the early hours of 11 September, I decided to see what remains of the largest of the barriers, the Wadi Bu Mansour Dam.

It was the collapse of this dam and another smaller one on the city’s outskirts, known locally as Sadd al-Bilad (City Dam), that turned the flooding of Derna into a human tragedy.

I wanted to understand what happened that…

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