Australian Libyans are trying to call home. But whole families are gone

As the death toll climbs following catastrophic flooding in Libya, there is growing sadness among the Libyan community in Australia.
Many are anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones, as hope of finding more survivors continues to fade.
For Faisel Tubbal and his friends, social media has always been a comforting link to family in Libya, but it’s also the gateway to unimaginable grief.

“It’s very bad. It’s really very bad. All of them, they have missed someone from their families,” he told SBS News.

Many in Derna were filming as disaster descended on the city when Storm Daniel made landfall on 10 September.
It burst dams, swept away buildings, and wiped out as much as a quarter of the eastern coastal city.
Osama Aldali’s friend was live-streaming as the water swallowed streets around his home. Just moments later, his entire building was carried away.
“I asked my relatives there about them, they say, ‘We couldn’t find the entire towers, I think they are in the sea,'” he said.

“The flood lifts, but that gap is in our hearts.”

A man in a dark blue hoodie.

Osama Aldali said a gap will remain in all Libyans’ hearts. Source: SBS News

Since news broke of the tragedy, everyone in the small but close-knit Libyan community has been frantically trying to make contact with family and friends.

There are too many missing to name, but between just four men in Wollongong, dozens of loved ones remain unaccounted for.
Communication remains patchy, and for many families, there is simply no one left to raise the alarm.

“We lost our families. We didn’t lose single people or something. Our families disappeared from the Libyan culture,” Osama said.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said on Friday that over 38,640 individuals were displaced in the most affected areas in northeastern Libya due to Storm Daniel.
Over 5,000 are presumed dead, with a total of 3,922 deaths having been registered in hospitals, according to WHO sources, IOM said on its website.
The United Nations aid chief said on Friday that floods in Libya that have killed thousands of people in its worst natural disaster in modern history were due to the collision of “climate and capacity”.

Mohamed Mgaram said everyone from the country is very connected.

A man with a grey polo shirt.

Mohamed Mgaram said everyone in Libya is very connected. Source: SBS News

“I’m from the west of Libya but, you know, we are a tribe, so I have one of my tribe who is living in Derna, so his wife and his two daughters [are] lost.”

The clean-up has begun and aid is trickling in, but like all disasters of this scale, the impact will last forever.
Communities have turned to each other to offer what little they can in both resources and spirit.
“Libyans coming from all the cities, from everywhere in Libya, to just provide the support to Derna,” Faisel said.
“We have this bad disaster, but we’re happy when we saw all this support.”

With additional reporting by Reuters.