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UN revises previous high Libya death toll

By Sahar Akbarzai and Richard Roth, CNN

(CNN) — The UN has amended its previous death toll from the floods in Libya, according to a revised report updated on Sunday morning from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

The UN is now stating that at least 3,958 people have died across Libya due to flooding, citing the UN World Health Organization (WHO). The revised report also states that more than 9,000 people are still missing. 

In Saturday’s initial report, OCHA said at least 11,300 people are dead in Derna, Libya, due to devastating flooding. OCHA cited the Libyan Red Crescent with the figures for Saturday’s report.  

“We’re going with figures just verified by WHO,” Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told CNN on Sunday. 

The Libyan Red Crescent Society told CNN earlier on Sunday that it never released the high death figure tolls to the UN from flooding in Derna. 

When asked how or why the UN cited the death toll incorrectly, Haq said, “in a lot of different tragedies we end up revising our numbers. So that’s just what’s happening here.”

“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,” Haq explained. 

The deputy spokesman said the numbers for the death toll are fluid, “it can go upward or downward.”

Derna, the epicenter of flooding during Storm Daniel, was split in two after floodwaters swept entire neighborhoods last Sunday, ploughing a path to the sea. The city had a population of around 100,000 before the tragedy.

Its waterfront has become the main staging area for delivering dead bodies and transporting them for burial, in a process that has been kept to one location due to the health hazards of decomposing bodies.

Experts say the storm’s impact was greatly exacerbated by a lethal confluence of factors including aging, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate warnings and the effects of the accelerating climate crisis.

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