Libya floods: Hope remains survivors can found after Derna dam disaster as 'cries heard' beneath rubble

Everyone in Derna is desperate for good news right now after days and days of utter misery and collective, searing suffering.

So, the suggestion there are noises from below ground, under a house encased in mud and rubble, is grasped eagerly.

No matter how unrealistic, plain miraculous and completely staggering this may seem to others, those in Derna want survivors.

Maybe they just need hope, hope that this agony they're all going through can somehow be assuaged.

We watch as a growing crowd of volunteers, health workers, troops and neighbours rush to the scene as word spreads.

A young volunteer wearing a blue hospital gown tells the fire crews there that he has heard cries from a woman - twice.

"How certain are you," I ask him.

"I'm sure," he replies. "100 per cent."

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But looking at the patch which was once home to three little girls who were nine, 10 and 11, it's hard to believe anyone could still be alive under there.

It is a mound of thick mud, so hard and impenetrable, it takes several of those gathered to chip away at the top layer with shovels and pick axes.

It becomes apparent this is all the equipment they have to hand to try to shift the mountain of debris which has been deposited on top of the home.

Even the house itself is not thought to be in its original position.

Neighbours are telling the rescue crews that the torrent of water which swept through Derna actually shifted the entire building from its foundations and moved it several metres.

It seems to have been partially protected by another huge building in front and several established palm trees but there are a number of upturned cars around it - and tonnes and tonnes of other debris carpeting it.

Another man steps forward to say he's been contacted by a friend of the family who once lived there.

The family friend insists he was phoned by one of the little girls. She says she's trapped under the house and she's using her father's abandoned phone which is somehow still working.

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The chance that a mobile phone might still be working more than a week on from the disaster doesn't strike them as impossible.

Nor does the idea that a little girl may have somehow be able to make it work in darkness beneath ground.

Hope - even the slightest glimmer of it - fuels this frenetic search which gathers more and more pace and more and more people.

They dig by hands for hours with growing numbers of people taking part, shifting rubble, concrete slabs and pulling out even a fridge from beneath.

They find a cavity and begin shouting down it calling for silence. Someone says they hear a responding bang and celebrations erupt. It generates even more enthusiasm for digging and even more people gather.

The search goes on by hand until dusk until a mechanical digger - one of the very few - is encouraged to come to the area.

It shifts huge slabs of concrete but still, there's nothing.

No one has heard a noise for a long time by now. Despondency creeps in and slowly the crowd dissipates. Soon there is just a rump of people still digging by hand.

They slowly move away one by one. In truth it was only hope which fed this search.

The rescue team feel they've failed…but with so much stacked against them from the off, in truth they, the little girl and all the people of this city, stood little chance.

Alex Crawford was reporting from the east Libyan port city of Derna with cameraman Jake Britton and producer Chris Cunningham.