Libyan protesters 'set fire' to Derna mayor's house as thousands demand investigation into floods

Thousands gathered in protest at the al-Shabana mosque in the flood-ravaged eastern city of Derna, demanding action over the handling of the disaster

Libyan protesters reportedly set fire to the house of Derna city's former mayor, as thousands took to the flood-stricken streets demanding an urgent international investigation into the disaster and that officials be held accountable.

Protesters gathered at the al-Shabana mosque on Monday following disastrous flooding in the coastal city which has left thousands dead, injured, missing and homeless.

On Monday evening, the former mayor of the city, Abdel-Moneim al-Gaithi, said his home was set on fire by protesters.

Al-Gaithi was suspended from his role earlier on Monday pending a public prosecutors' investigation into the collapse of two dams - built in the 1970s - that collapsed last week during Mediterranean storm Daniel.

The collapse sent a wall of water gushing through Derna, leaving around 11,300 residents killed and another 10,000 missing, said the country's Red Crescent.

Officials fear the death toll could reach as high as 20,000, as rescue teams struggle to reach bodies trapped under dirt, cars and buildings.

A week on from when the devastating floods hit, the tides are still bringing in some of the dead. ITV News' Emma Murphy reports from Eastern Libya

One aid worker told ITV News some victims of the floods are buried under at least three metres of dirt, as he laid out the monumental challenge of locating all the missing and dead mainly by hand with little machinery to assist.

A protester, speaking on behalf of Derna's residents read out a list of demands during the demonstrations on Monday.

“We call all officials to be held accountable and to arrest those (officials) who were in charge of the city. Although they were not qualified, they were appointed despite being rejected by the city’s residents," he read.

There have been calls for the UN to set up an office in Derna for urgent reconstruction of the city and to process compensation for those affected by the flood.

Many of the city's residents see politicians as the architects of the crisis, with the country divided between rival administrations since 2014. Both are backed by international patrons and armed militias whose influence in the country has ballooned since a NATO-backed Arab Spring uprising toppled autocratic ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Rescuers and relatives search for the bodies of flood victims in Derna. Credit: AP

Both authorities have deployed humanitarian teams to the city but have struggled to respond to the large-scale disaster. The recovery operation, with help from international teams, has been poorly coordinated, and residents say aid distribution has been uneven.

On Tuesday, the prime minister of Libya's eastern administration said authorities have divided Derna into four sections to create buffers in case of disease outbreaks.

"Now the affected areas are completely isolated, the armed forces and the government have begun creating a buffer out of fear of the spread of diseases or epidemics," Prime Minister Ossama Hamad said in a telephone interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV. No further details were given.

According to local media, the internet went down in the east of the country on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, the United Nations warned that a disease outbreak could create “a second devastating crisis.”

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