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 recently suffered from two natural disasters in a row. First, an earthquake struck Morocco. Then, just days later, heavy rains caused deadly floods in Libya. Both disasters caused widespread destruction.  

An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the ground. It is caused by movements of the rocks under the ground. Earthquakes are measured on the Richter scale. This scale goes from one to ten. Ten is the worst.  

On the night of Friday, September 8, an earthquake shook the middle of the country of Morocco. It 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 where many people live. Many places in Marrakech were damaged. Towns and villages near the Atlas Mountains also suffered. Mountain locations are difficult to rescue people or repair damage. 

Just three days later, 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. Two dams protect the city from flooding. At 2:30am on Monday, September 11, a giant wave hit the city. It knocked over cars and covered the streets in mud. Then, at 3:00 am, another, even bigger wave hit the city. It was clear the dams had failed. People fled to their roofs. Some ran to higher ground. Entire neighborhoods were driven into the sea. People are asking questions about why the dams failed. 

The two countries have been devastated. Thousands of people have been killed or injured by the disasters. 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