Bashir Saqr El-Hassi, a 42-year-old Libyan coastguard diver, has faced haunting experiences while searching the blue Mediterranean waters near Derna. He describes the most disturbing aspect as finding the bodies of children with vacant eye sockets and protruding bones. El-Hassi, a father himself, can’t help but think of his own children during these grim tasks. He and his team of local divers are working tirelessly to retrieve bodies that remain in the sea after a devastating dam rupture in early September.
The dam rupture led to floods that swept through Derna, causing widespread destruction and a devastating death toll, estimated to be in the thousands, with thousands more reported missing. International relief teams have largely left Libya, and local divers like El-Hassi are now working to find missing bodies.
The divers, who risk their lives in the turbulent waters, recount horrifying scenes they’ve witnessed. One recalls a body stuck under the rubble of a building, being eaten by fish. They face a race against time as the bodies become increasingly decomposed, making recovery more challenging.
One experienced diver describes this mission as the most difficult he has ever undertaken, even compared to diving missions to retrieve the bodies of asylum seekers who drowned at sea. The toll on the divers is profound, affecting their mental and emotional well-being.
Before each dive, El-Hassi makes a point of talking to his wife and children, as he doesn’t see them for days during these missions. The fear and anxiety he feels are palpable, as he contemplates the possibility of his own family meeting a similar fate.
Despite the immense difficulty and emotional toll, El-Hassi and his team are driven by their sense of humanity. They understand the importance of their mission in helping families find closure and lay their loved ones to rest.
The divers face challenging conditions, from preparing their equipment to identifying diving locations, but their dedication to this humanitarian cause keeps them going. They are committed to searching for bodies and providing solace to grieving families, one submerged vehicle at a time. – rewrite full content in paragraphs