Tunisia: Earthquake, Flooding Highlight Disaster Vulnerabilities

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Diplomacy, Security, Tunisia


On 8 September 2023, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Morocco, with nearly 3,000 reported dead and thousands more injured, many from remote villages in the Atlas mountains.

Early on 11 September 2023, two dams collapsed in eastern Libya under the weight of rainfall from Storm Daniel, resulting in a devastating flood that killed over 10,000 people, with thousands more missing, and tens of thousands displaced. The city of Derna, in eastern Libya, suffered catastrophic flood damage, even as other cities in Libya reported dozens of dead and injured.

Tunisia offered search and rescue assistance to both North African countries following the events. Morocco did not accept the offer of assistance from Tunisia, as well as offers from several other countries.

A Tunisian search and rescue team was dispatched to Libya, reportedly helping to rescue 100 people.

As rescue operations continue, many observers are raising questions about disaster preparedness in both Morocco and Libya.

Concerns circulated about the use of certain construction materials and maintenance of critical infrastructure. In Libya, in particular, many commentators have pointed to the role of corruption and poor governance in making what would have been a destructive event into a humanitarian disaster that has killed thousands of Libyans.


The events in Morocco and Libya are devastating reminders of regional vulnerabilities to natural disasters which are rare, but high-risk when they do occur.

Across North Africa, communities remain vulnerable to certain types of natural disasters, particularly flooding, wildfires, and seismic activity.

Organizations must take vulnerabilities to these events into account when conducting regular risk assessments of the environment and ensure that they are postured to respond in the unlikely event of a serious natural disaster event.


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