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They labored for years in Libya. Now, Egypt village mourns scores killed in floods

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NAZLET EL-SHARIF, Egypt — The 42-year-old Egyptian farmer was watering his crops alongside the Nile River south of the capital of Cairo and scrolling on his cell phone when he discovered that two of his sons had been {dead}.

Ashraf Sadawy Abdel-Fattah noticed an inventory on social media with names of Egyptians killed within the horrific flooding that tore by the town of Derna in neighboring Libya on Sunday night time.

His second-eldest son, Mohamed, 23, and Abdel-Rahman, who was 19, had been on the listing, together with six kin and scores of different males from their village.

“It’s an important shock for the household, but additionally for your complete village,” Abdel-Fattah mentioned, chatting with The Related Press on Thursday outdoors his dwelling in Nazlet el-Sharif, a village within the province of Beni Sueif.

Not less than 74 males from the village, some as younger as 17, had been killed when Mediterranean storm Daniel unleashed heavy rainfall on Derna on Sunday night time. Two dams within the mountains above the town burst, sending a wall of water two tales excessive that wreaked destruction and swept whole neighborhoods out to sea.

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The deluge proved lethal for 1000’s in simply seconds, uprooting condo buildings and washing away roads and bridges. Greater than 11,300 folks had been reported killed, in keeping with the Libyan Purple Crescent — together with scores of Egyptians who had lived and labored in Derna for years.

Days later, searchers are digging by mud and hollowed-out buildings in Derna for 10,000 folks lacking and feared {dead}.

“It was like hell,” mentioned Rashad Ezzat Abdel-Hamid, a 45-year-old Egyptian who survived the catastrophe. He mentioned he and 7 different Egyptians rushed to the roof of their three-story constructing when the wall of water surged by their road within the metropolis heart.

An untold variety of folks had been washed away within the densely populated city space, mentioned Abdel-Hamid. When he got here down after the surge subsided, it was a scene of horror.

Lifeless our bodies, garments, wrecked automobiles and furnishings lay in all places within the streets, inundated with mud and particles. Buildings had collapsed or had been partially destroyed. Round him, folks had been wailing and crying, on the lookout for their family members and attempting to retrieve these below the rubble.

“Total households drowned inside their houses. Others washed strategy to the ocean,” mentioned Abdel-Hamid, who returned to Egypt on Thursday. “Nothing was left however rubble.”

In feedback to the Saudi-owned Al Arabia tv station, Derna Mayor Abdel-Moneim al-Ghaithi mentioned earlier this week the demise toll may climb as much as 20,000, given the variety of neighborhoods hit by the wall of water.

1000’s of Egyptians had been residing in Derna, most of them working in development initiatives within the metropolis and the encompassing areas, mentioned Abdel-Hamid. He had gone there solely six months in the past.

Egyptians have for many years gravitated to oil-rich Libya for work. In recent times, younger Egyptians, like different Center Jap and African folks fleeing conflicts and poverty, additionally used Libya as a transit level to attempt to attain Europe, throughout the Mediterranean Sea.

Libyan authorities say that up to now, our bodies of 145 Egyptians killed in Derna have been discovered. Dozens had been buried in Libya, whereas 84 had been taken to the close by metropolis of Tobruk and flown dwelling, Egypt’s Overseas Ministry mentioned.

In Nazlet el-Sharif, 167 kilometers (103 miles) from Cairo, 74 village males had been buried in a mass funeral on Wednesday attended by native officers and a whole bunch of villagers.

The grief reverberates by the poor farming village, the place cows and donkeys share grime roads with automobiles, motorbikes and horse-drawn carts. Village houses face date palms groves and the fields are inexperienced with clover, corn and different grains.

“Some households misplaced one son, some two, and others misplaced three,” mentioned Moustafa Aweis Moustafa, a retired civil servant. “These younger males went there to assist their households.”

Abdel-Fattah’s Mohammed went to Libya three years in the past to attempt to make their lives higher, working as a day laborer in Derna, sending no matter cash he may save to his father to maintain the household going as Egypt sunk deeper into an financial disaster.

Earlier this yr, Abdel-Rahman joined his brother in Derna after two years unsuccessfully on the lookout for work in Egypt, their father mentioned.

The final time spoke to them was on Sep. 8, a half-hour video name with the remainder of the household. Mohamed talked to his mom about plans to marry and eagerly listened to information of how his new condo was coming alongside. His father was constructing it for him, including a 3rd flooring to the household dwelling.

Abdel-Fattah’s three nephews additionally died in Derna. Their mom, his sister-in-law, is in shock, unable to talk 4 days later, he mentioned.

“The entire household has been ruined,” he mentioned.

He finds little solace in the truth that he has been in a position to bury his sons — his coronary heart goes out to different villagers, whose boys had been buried a whole bunch of miles away in mass graves in Libya.

He retains wanting on the images of his sons on his telephone, and tears choke him up again and again.

“They needed us to reside a greater life,” he mentioned of his two sons. “It’s a catastrophe, a catastrophe for the entire village.”

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