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Libya is a country in anguish.

Her people are suffering a fresh kind of horror after years of civil war, fighting, corruption, greed and people smuggling.

Now floods have devastated the port city of Derna and the communities and villagers around.

And what’s so much worse is that the natural disaster caused by Storm Daniel, which has been sweeping across European counties, has been compounded by a man-made catastrophe.

Those in the worst-affected town of Derna are calling it a disaster of “biblical proportions”.

Civilians in the town have been using their bare hands to try to dig for survivors… instead they’re finding just the remains of victims.

The airport at Benghazi has been bustling with people trying to get home or go to the area themselves to track down missing relatives. There are an estimated 10,000 unaccounted for.

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It’s hard to know exact figures but the civilians on the ground are stunned and terrified at the scale of the devastation this torrent of water caused.

They expect the death toll to rise substantially but with little co-ordination on the ground, accurate figures are tough to come by.

The collapse of not one but two dams in Derna unleashed a terrible violent water force which upended vehicles, tore down houses, apartment blocks and schools.

People look for survivors in Derna, Libya, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2023. 
People searching for survivors in Derna, Libya. Pic: AP

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‘A lot of people are under the mud’

One shocked survivor showed us pictures of the utterly flattened muddy landscape in front of him where dozens of buildings once stood.

“They’ve all just gone… Derna has gone,” Maged told us.

“I can’t believe it. I’ve lived 27 years or so in Britain but I was working on my retirement home here in Derna where I am from. It used to be beautiful. Now there’s nothing left. I don’t even know if I can stay here now. The memories are just too hard.”

Another survivor told us of the despair at the complete destruction of the area.

“It is a disaster of biblical proportions”, Mere Bijou said.

“And our government is to blame… anyone in charge in Libya is to blame. Everyone knew Storm Daniel was coming but they did nothing about it. They didn’t protect us, they didn’t try to save us, they didn’t do anything.”

Damage from massive flooding is seen in Derna, Libya 
Damage from massive flooding is seen in Derna. Pic: AP

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International aid has been promised – by the UK, France, UAE and Turkey – but those on the ground haven’t seen much evidence of it.

“I’m told Turkey is helping, France is helping, other countries are helping,” Mere said.

“But we haven’t seen them… where are they? There’s no international help at all. It’s just chaos.

“We’ve got a small group of four people – all civilians – and we’ve pulled out eight peoples’ remains on our own [in] the last few hours.”

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Libya: ‘Disaster driven by human error’

Libyans are worn down by years and years of poor governance many of which date back to 2011 and the NATO-backed ousting of the country’s autocratic dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, during the period which became known as the Arab Spring.

Gaddafi was killed and the country dived into instability with rival armed militias vying for power and territory.

The divisions and fighting led to a bitter civil war and two pseudo governments splitting the country into two.

The West-based authority is recognised by the United Nations while the east is run by Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who supported Gaddafi.

Emergency members work near a damaged building after a powerful storm and heavy rainfall hit Libya, in Derna 
Pic:Ali M.Bomhadi/Reuters
Emergency crews working near a damaged building in Derna

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Libya: Sea ‘bringing in new bodies’

The years of strife, weak and corrupt governance, corruption and negligence has meant Libya was utterly unprepared for coping with a disaster, described by some as apocalyptic.

While the devastating earthquake in Morocco took the country by surprise, Storm Daniel announced its arrival by smashing its way through a string of countries.

But the Libyan authorities were simply not up to preparing for or coping with a disaster of this magnitude – and it is the Libyan people who’ve been killed, or left displaced in their thousands.

Some of the survivors are already fearing they will never be able to find their loved ones.

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Viktor Sokolov: Top Russian admiral appears in video call – after Ukraine claimed he was killed in missile strike




Viktor Sokolov: Top Russian admiral appears in video call - after Ukraine claimed he was killed in missile strike

A top Russian admiral has appeared in a video call – a day after Ukrainian special forces claimed he had been killed in a missile strike.

Admiral Viktor Sokolov – the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and one of Russia’s most senior naval officers – was reportedly killed in last week’s strike on the naval port of Sevastopol, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond when asked by news agencies to confirm or deny if Mr Sokolov had been killed.

However, the ministry released a video on Tuesday appearing to show Mr Sokolov attending a conference with other top Russian military officials via video link.

Mr Sokolov was not seen speaking in the footage of the conference – led by Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

It is not clear when the footage was filmed, though Russia’s defence ministry claimed the meeting took place on Tuesday.

Ukraine war latest: Russia attacks area bordering NATO

Viktor Sokolov
Mr Sokolov (pictured left) appeared at a military conference via video link – though it is not clear when the footage was taken

Ukraine special forces said on Telegram: “Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish a response with Sokolov allegedly alive, our units are clarifying the information.”

In the video, Mr Shoigu said more than 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in September and that more than 2,700 weapons, including seven American Bradley fighting vehicles, had been destroyed.

Both Russia and Ukraine have at times exaggerated enemy losses in the war, while also saying little about their own losses.

Michael Clarke: It is possible Admiral Sokolov lives – but Russia needs to produce more convincing evidence

Sky News’ defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke says: “We’ve looked at the video, it’s not very clear and it jumps around quite a lot.

“We’ve located the person on the video who looks most like Sokolov, and it may be him, but it’s not a completely clear match.

“It could be Sokolov, looking at previous photographs of him. On the other hand, there’s still no proof that this video is really current.

“There’s a lot of evidence that Sokolov was in the building that was hit on Friday by a couple of Storm Shadow missiles.

“So it is possible that Sokolov lives. But I think the Russians would have to produce more convincing evidence than this if they want to be taken seriously on this particular issue.

“And it’s odd that producing a rather vague video and saying he’s here somewhere and leaving it to news organisations like us to try to work out who it might be is less than clear in the message they were trying to send.”

On Monday, Ukraine’s special forces claimed they had killed Mr Sokolov and 33 other officers in last week’s missile attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

“After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Ukraine’s special forces said on the Telegram messaging app.

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“Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Ukraine’s claim that it had killed Mr Sokolov, instead referring reporters to the defence ministry.

A screengrab from social media shows smoke billowing from the top of a building, alleged to be the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, following a missile attack in Sevastopol on September 22. X
A screengrab from social media shows smoke billowing from the top of a building, alleged to be the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, following a missile attack in Sevastopol

Video captures moment that missile hits Russia's Black Fleet headquarters in Crimea
Video appeared to show the strike on the Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol

In a statement after the attack, the Russian defence ministry said one serviceman was missing, revising an earlier statement that the man had been killed.

Moscow-installed authorities in Sevastopol also said they were taking extra measures to address Ukraine’s increased attacks on Crimea.

The attack came after an earlier strike on Sevastopol, in which a Russian submarine and warship were damaged.

A Ukrainian and a Western source said that British Storm Shadow cruise missiles were deployed in the attack on the port of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

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Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader loses appeal against extra 19-year prison sentence




Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader loses appeal against extra 19-year prison sentence

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has lost his appeal against a 19-year sentence added to his existing jail term.

It was imposed in August after he was convicted on six charges related to alleged extremist activity – which he denied.

The appeal was rejected by a judge in Moscow, with Mr Navalny – wearing a black prison uniform – joining by video link from prison.

Media were not allowed to witness proceedings apart from the reading of the verdict.

The 19-year sentence was imposed on top of 11 and a half years that he was already serving after being convicted of fraud and other charges.

Mr Navalny has said all the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to silence his criticism of President Vladimir Putin‘s repressive regime and the war in Ukraine.

His political movement has been outlawed and declared “extremist”, with its main players either being jailed or fleeing Russia.

More on Alexei Navalny

President Putin makes a point of never referring to Mr Navalny by name as part of an attempt by authorities to portray him as irrelevant.

Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for a further 19 years over 'extremism'
Mr Navalny pictured on a video feed at his sentencing in August

The 47-year-old politician returned to the country voluntarily in 2021 after nearly dying when he was poisoned with a nerve agent in a suspected Russian plot.

He was immediately arrested when he landed and is imprisoned in Melekhovo, about 145 miles (235 km) east of Moscow.

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Mr Navalny said in the summer that he had been forced to listen to the same speech by President Putin for more than 100 days in a row.

A TV technician who worked for Mr Navalny, sentenced at the same trial in August, also had his appeal against an eight-year sentence rejected on Tuesday.

Daniel Kholodny shouted “Alexei, see you!” just before the video feed of the hearing ended, with Mr Navalny waving his hand in response.

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Body of migrant found on Sangatte beach near Calais




Body of migrant found on Sangatte beach near Calais

A body of a migrant was found this morning on Sangatte beach near Calais.

The authorities confirmed she was a 24-year-old Eritrean woman.

In August, at least six people died and dozens more were rescued after a migrant boat crossing the English Channel capsized.

The incident took place off Sangatte in northern France.

A vigil was held in the port town of Folkestone for the victims as participants called for “safe routes” and “enough deaths”.

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