DERNA - A week after a tsunami-sized flash flood devastated the Libyan coastal city of Derna, sweeping thousands to their deaths, the international aid effort gained pace on Sunday to help the grieving survivors.
Search-and-rescue teams wearing face masks and protective suits kept up the grim search for any survivors who may still be trapped in the mud-caked wasteland of smashed buildings, crushed cars and uprooted trees.
Traumatised residents, 30,000 of whom are now homeless in Derna alone, are in dire need of clean water, food, shelter and basic supplies amid a growing risk of cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition, UN agencies warn.
Emergency response teams and relief goods have been deployed from France, Iran, Malta, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, with more on the way from multiple other European and Arab nations.
The health minister of the eastern administration, Othman Abdeljalil, has said that 3,252 people were confirmed dead in Derna, where corpses wrapped in blankets and in body bags have lined squares and streets.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Sunday that the eventual death toll from Derna alone could be as high as 11,300, with another 10,100 missing.
But the Libyan Red Crescent, which was cited by the UN agency, earlier denied a UN death toll of over 10,000 and called on the media to "exercise caution and accuracy".
The massive flood came as Libya was lashed on September 10 by the hurricane-strength Mediterranean Storm Daniel, which had earlier brought deadly floods to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.