In a hospital in northwest Syria, Usama Abdelhamid, wounded at the front, can’t hold back his tears: the building where he lives with his family collapsed in the middle of the night.
This neighbor of the town of Azmarin, on the border with Turkey, miraculously survived to the violent earthquake that on Monday morning it shook the area between the Turkish southeast and the Syrian north, causing more than 2,300 deaths.
“We were sleeping when we felt a strong earthquake,” he explained to AFP, dressed in a dark tunic.
“With my wife and children, we ran to the door of our third-floor apartment. When we opened it, the whole building collapsed”, he says, after being treated at the Al Rahma hospital in the city of Darkush, in the province of Idlib.
Within moments, Usama Abdelhamid was under the rubble of the four-story building, but “protective God” miraculously saved him and his family, he says.
“The walls fell on us, but my son made it out and started screaming. Then people came and pulled us out of the rubble, ”he continues, very excited. All his neighbors died.
Al Rahma hospital is overcrowded. Ambulances do not stop bringing injured, many of them childrenaccording to a correspondent for AFP. At least thirty lifeless bodies were transferred to the center.
In one of the rooms of the establishment, several wounded people lie in beds. Some with bandages on their heads, others with fractures or bruises. In another room, a girl cries as she is given an injection and then her hand is put in a cast. A boy with a bandaged head is sitting near her.
“Under the rubble”
“The situation is very serious, many people are still under the rubble of residential buildings”, declares the surgeon Majid Ibrahim.
in these areas controlled by rebels fighting the Damascus regimethere have been at least 380 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries.
Mohamed Barakat, 24 years old and father of four children, occupies one of the hospital beds, with injuries to his face and a broken leg, after a wall fell on him.
“We left the house because it is a ground floor and it is old. But the walls of the neighboring buildings began to fall on us when we were in the street”, he recounts.
In the city of Sarmada, in the north of Idlib, a block of contiguous buildings was left on the ground. Among the remains are mattresses and blankets.
a photographer of AFP He saw rescue workers trying to remove rubble to find survivors, while heavy vehicles were removing large blocks.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday. This country, at war for almost 12 years, is divided into areas controlled by the government and regions under rebel control.
The first quake was followed by a second magnitude 7.5 at 1:24 PM (1024 GMT), also in southern Turkey.
As soon as Anas Habache, 37, began to feel the tremor, he went to look for his son and yelled at his pregnant wife to run to the entrance of his apartment, on the third and top floor of a building in Aleppo.
“We went down the stairs like crazy, and when we got to the street, we saw dozens of frightened families,” he says.
“Some were on their knees praying, others were crying, as if it were doomsday,” he adds.
“I did not feel anything like it during these war years. This was so much worse than bombs and bullets”, he assures.
(With information from AFP/by Omar Haj Kadour)
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