Tragedy in Libya: The moment the Greek mission arrived, just before starting the fatal route (PHOTOS)


In the last moments before the tragic accident, which led to the death of five members of the Greek humanitarian mission in Libya and the severe injury of 13 more, were captured in photos taken by The Libya Update.

The photos show the 19 members of the Greek mission, including 16 from the Armed Forces, a few hours before the tragedy, being briefed on the airport runway before boarding the bus to start the search and rescue mission in flooded Libya. The mission was never completed.

A little while later, the accident happened.

"Greek army units arrive in Libya to assist in the search and rescue operations to locate victims of floods that swept parts of the country’s eastern region," The Libya Update wrote in an article. Moments later, the same website posted a video showing the bus burning after colliding with a truck.

10 of the 13 wounded of the Greek mission have been transferred to the 401 General Military Hospital of Athens. The remaining three are at the 251 General Aviation Hospital and the Athens Naval Hospital.

According to sources, one of the ten injured is more severe than the others, as he has suffered fractures in the waist.

They were lost while performing the duty of humanity

"In a tragic accident, we unfortunately mourn five members of the Greek mission. A drama happened while they were performing the noble duty of humanitarianism and international solidarity. The whole country mourns. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and our ten injured. The State will stand by their side," said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a statement.

"The loss of their lives in an accident during the practical demonstration of solidarity with our fellow citizens who are being tested, together with members of missions from other states, causes immense sadness to the large family of the Armed Forces, as well as to the entire Greek people," commented the Minister of National Defence, Nikos Dendias.

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Five members of a Greek humanitarian aid team sent to Libya have been killed in a road accident, the Greek army said on Monday.

“Five bodies, including three officials of the Greek army and two translators from the Greek foreign ministry who were part of the aid team, will be repatriated to Athens on Monday,” the Greek chiefs of staff said in a statement.

Abdel Jalil said the accident occurred when a vehicle carrying 19 members of the Greek team collided with a car carrying a Libyan family. Three people in the family’s car died and two were seriously injured, he said.

Confusion has emerged over the death toll from the September 10 disaster after the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at the weekend announced 11,300 dead and 10,100 missing in Derna and an estimated 170 other people killed elsewhere in eastern Libya.

OCHA attributed the death toll to the Libyan Red Crescent, but its spokesman Tawfiq al-Shukri rejected the figures, telling dpa: “The official numbers are issued by the agency authorised by the Libyan authorities.”

In a later situation report, OCHA instead cited the World Health Organization figures of 3,958 people dead and more than 9,000 still missing.

A group of Libyan data analysts and researchers also said there had been about 4,000 confirmed deaths in a count on Saturday.

Late on Sunday, Othman Abdel Jalil, the eastern government’s health minister, told a news conference 3,283 people had been buried so far.

Information emerged that experts had long been warning about the two dams upstream from Derna, repeatedly calling for them to be maintained, but successive governments did not do so in spite of money being disbursed for their maintenance.

The Abu Mansour and Derna dams were built by a Yugoslav construction company in the 1970s and were meant to protect the city from flash floods, which are not uncommon in the area. Water collected behind the dams was used to irrigate crops.

“Both dams had not been maintained for many years despite repeated floods that struck the city in the past,” said Saleh Emhanna, a geological researcher with the University of Ajdabia in Libya, told the Agence France-Presse news agency. “They were dilapidated.”

The dams suffered major damage in a storm in 1986, and more than a decade later, a study commissioned by the Libyan government revealed cracks and fissures in their structures, Libya’s general prosecutor, al-Sediq al-Sour, said on Friday.

A report by a state-run auditing agency in 2021 said the two dams had not been maintained despite the allocation of more than $2m for that purpose in 2012 and 2013.

At a news conference in the stricken city, al-Sour said prosecutors would investigate the collapse of the two dams and where the maintenance funds went.

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