On Monday afternoon Saddam Tarfaya received a call from a friend saying that his hometown of Derna in Libya had just experienced massive floods.
“It’s like my soul was destroyed,” Tarfaya, who has lived in Malta for over 10 years, said.
The 32-year-old’s father, three sisters and nephew live outside the city centre and survived. But three of Tarfaya’s aunts and their entire families died in the floods.
“Their children and grandchildren all died,” he said.
The eastern Libyan city of Derna was flooded late last Sunday after two upstream dams burst amid torrential rains brought about by Storm Daniel.
People and entire buildings were swept away in the floods, leaving thousands dead or missing in the Mediterranean city.
“Everyone who was in the city centre died,” Tarfaya said.
“The city has turned to dust and the Mediterranean Sea turned red with blood”.
“You cannot recognise the place at all,” he said as he showed Times of Malta videos of the devastation.
The human cost of the tragedy is evident through
Tarfaya’s Facebook feed, with friends mourning loved ones.
“All these names are people who died, from the same family,” he said, pointing to a Facebook post with 20 names and a black background.
‘I’m still crying from the inside’
“I’m still crying from the inside,” he said.
Tarfaya has reached out to many of his friends and relatives in the Libyan city, asking if they survived the ordeal. Some have answered but others have still not confirmed they are safe, he said.
He said people in Derna need medicine, food and equipment to help rescue people who might still be trapped under the rubble.
Libico, a Malta-based organisation representing the local Libyan community, is collecting funds to help the devastated city.
The organisation has managed to collect €920 so far. They will be sending the money to the Libyan Red Crescent of Benghazi to support their relief efforts.
Help for victims
A Libyan company with offices in Malta is also collecting provisions for victims of the disaster. Husni Bey Group, a food importation and logistics company, is asking for dried food items, including canned food, pasta, rice and baby food.
They are also collecting clothing, beds, blankets and women’s sanitary products at collection points across Malta, including Żejtun, Siġġiewi and Msida. The company is sending all the provisions to Benghazi.
“There the Red Crescent and a foundation of Husni Bey group, MENA, will be sorting what needs to be used on the ground in Benghazi for internally displaced people and what needs to be sent to Derna,” he said.
Meanwhile, Caritas has launched a fundraiser to help the victims in Libya and for the victims of the earthquake in Morocco. For more information, one can call 2219 9000.