The United Nations said the death toll from Storm Daniel in Libyan stood at nearly 4,000, which is a drastic drop from 11,300 it had previously reported. File Photo by Mohamed Shalash/EPA-EFE
Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The United Nations' humanitarian affairs office has drastically revised down the death toll from Storm Daniel in Libya by several thousand while stating it expects the figure to rise again amid search-and-rescue work.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a 5 p.m. local time Saturday update that the unprecedented flooding caused by Storm Daniel that hit the North African nation earlier this month has killed 3,958 people.
The adjustment came after the OCHA on Friday had said, citing the Libyan Red Crescent, that at least 11,300 people had died in Derna from the flooding.
In its Saturday update, it cited the World Health Organization, which added that more than 9,000 were still missing.
Concerning the discrepancy, Libyan Red Cross confirmed to UPI on Monday that its head of communications, Tawfik Shoukri, "did not communicate the number" previously cited by the OCHA.
"We recognize the urgency in confirming the number of lives affected and displaced due to the recent floods in Libya," it said.
"However, at this stage, it's crucial to understand that the responsibility for verifying and disseminating official figures rests with the Libyan authorities. We cannot confirm numbers, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing humanitarian aid in coordination with the relevant agencies."
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, told CNN, that the figures had been recently verified by the WHO.
"In a lot of different tragedies, we end up revising our numbers. So, that's what's happening here," Haq said.
"Standard procedure is we work with different parties trying to make sure our numbers are cross checked. Whenever we do these revisions, it's because our numbers are being cross checked."
The storm hit Libya on Sept. 10, causing devastating landslides. Two dams collapsed in the port city of Derna, which was among the worst cities affected by the natural disaster.
The U.N. report on Saturday said reports of two more dams overwhelmed by rapidly rising water in the northeast have raised concerns that they too may fail and trigger even more destruction.
"The humanitarian situation remains particularly grim in Derna, where urgent multi-sectoral assistance is required to save lives and ease suffering," the update said.
According to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration, more than 40,000 people have been displaced across northeastern Libya, though experts expect this number to increase as they gain access to the worst affected areas, including Derna, where at least 30,000 have been displaced.
The U.N. said that the storm's devastation was "severely exacerbated" by high levels of pre-existing needs and vulnerabilities, including deteriorating critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools.