Two Disasters Strike North Africa 

Ambulances and cleanup crews are helping in the city of Derna, Libya after a devastating flood.

The region of North Africa suffered from two natural disasters in a row. First, an earthquake rocked Morocco, then, just days later, deadly floods caused a dam failure and mass destruction in Libya. The disasters left thousands of people dead, injured, or missing.  

On the night of Friday, September 8, an earthquake shook the middle of the country of Morocco. An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the ground, caused by movements of the rocks under the ground. Earthquakes are measured on the Richter scale, a scale that goes from one to ten. This earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter Scale. That makes it a strong earthquake. What is worse, it hit near Marrakech, a major city in Morocco, putting many people in terrible danger.  

Many parts of Marrakech were damaged as buildings toppled over and roads were torn apart. Towns and villages near the Atlas Mountains also suffered, as fragile homes built from mud and brick were completely destroyed. Rescuers are struggling to access areas in the mountains to help people. 

Just three days later, early on Monday, September 11, a heavy storm threatened the city of Derna in Libya. The city lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Akhḍar Mountains. The Wadi Derna River runs from the mountains into the Mediterranean Sea through the city. Two dams usually protect the city from being flooded. However, at 2:30am, a giant wave hit the city, knocking over cars and covering the streets in mud. Then, as residents who had been awoken tried to recover, another, even bigger wave hit the city at 3:00am.  

It was clear the dams had failed. People fled to their roofs or ran for higher ground. Many people could not escape. Entire neighborhoods were driven into the sea. Now, thousands are dead or injured and people are demanding an investigation into why the dams collapsed. 

Morocco and Libya have been devastated by these disasters. They are continuing efforts to locate thousands of missing people and care for those who have been injured. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations are providing help. People need food, shelter, and help rebuilding their communities. 

What Can You Do? Look for organizations that help people during disasters. Ask how you can help them. 

Photo Credit: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images