The Libyan floods have been catastrophic in a country that already had huge problems.
TV footage of the aftermath of the floods has been bad enough. Online footage of the water as it cascaded through the eastern city of Derna was even worse.
This is how it is in the age of mass video phones – scenes that once almost never would have been seen are captured not by the odd filmmaker, but thousands of them – as they happen.
After two dams burst, entire neighbourhoods are said to have been washed into the sea – the mere description of such a thing is terrifying. Thousands of bodies have been found in the wreckage and it is feared that the toll could spiral with 10,000 people reported missing, many of them thought to be in the sea.
The British Red Cross has launched an appeal and said three Libyan Red Crescent volunteers lost their lives while trying to save others. This is a deserving cause.
Only days ago Morocco, which is also in northeastern Africa, suffered a devastating earthquake. There have been natural disasters in the world for as long as there have been humans, but some sorts of events linked to the weather such as forest fires might be getting worse – although this is disputed.
One thing that cannot be disputed is the increasingly changeable and extreme weather, which has seen hottest-ever temperature records smashed in England, France, Canada and many other countries. In Northern Ireland we had our warmest ever June, our wettest ever July, our fourth warmest ever August and now our hottest ever September day.
Yet in NI and the rest of these islands we are spared natural disasters. We have political and economic problems for sure, much of them caused by populist and bad governance. Yet this is a society with so much to be thankful for, and so much potential.