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17 June, 2024
 
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Libya: Tragic road accident claims lives of Greek rescue mission

Questions arise about safety measures in chaotic environment

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

The death in the horrific road accident on Sunday afternoon in Benghazi of five Greeks who were part of an armed forces mission to Libya to assist flood-affected residents of Derna raises legitimate concerns about the planning and execution of such a complex mission in the midst of chaos, in a country that is, in any case, unsafe due to years of civil war.

Twenty persons, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Special Warfare Command, military medical specialists, and civilian interpreters, were on board a bus, making them an ideal target for any malicious actor with limited response capabilities.

According to existing information, the bus, which was driven by a local, was heading from Benghazi to its final destination of Derna, accompanied by two Libyan security forces jeeps, one of which was leading and the other following.

At the time of the collision between a Land Rover jeep and the bus carrying the Greek delegation, there was no visual contact with the Libyan security forces jeep in front. It appears that the driver lost control of the jeep, which hit the bus sideways, lifting it into the air. When it landed, the front section caught fire. Those in the front seats were burnt, while those in the back were flung out through the broken windows.

A government official said the six Libyans in the jeep, who were well-known in the Derna area for their charitable and volunteer work, died. The jeep had been specially outfitted with a 200-liter gasoline tank for more autonomy, which explains the rapid spread of the fire. Sources said that the damage to the bus did not indicate a blowout from an explosion, but rather a fire following a collision, lending credence to the notion that it was not a terrorist strike.

The transport of the bodies belonging to the three members of the armed forces and the two civilian interpreters was carried out by a C-27 transport aircraft of the Air Force.

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Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Libya  |  accident

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