Volunteers in Libya have criticized the response to the devastation resulting from the collapse of two dams as disorganized and uncoordinated. Even before the dams broke, residents of the worst-hit areas were getting conflicting signals from the authorities on whether to evacuate, some said.
The scale of the disaster was also partly due to the lack of a functional national meteorological authority, “thanks to the chaotic situation of the administration in Libya,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a U.N. agency.
The Libyan meteorological service did issue early warnings about heavy rain and floods but did not address the risk posed by “the aging dams,” and service was limited by “major gaps in its observing systems,” the U.N. agency said.
The authorities in Libya, which is ruled by rival governments, announced a joint operation room to oversee the response. Essam Abu Zeriba, the interior minister of the government in eastern Libya, explained the plan, saying the joint effort would work in cooperation with the security forces.