March 28, 2023

Atarib, Syria – When the primary earthquake struck on February 6, the closely pregnant Sakhaa al-Mousa was jolted awake in her condo. Earlier than the 24-year-old had time to fathom what was happening, the three-storey constructing she and her household had been in caved in, trapping them beneath.

“I began screaming, hoping that somebody exterior may hear me,” she advised Al Jazeera. “I may hear the rescuers however they could not hear me. So I grabbed a rock and began banging it on one of many partitions above me.”

There was no sound coming from her husband or two younger sons.

“Being buried alive is such a daunting feeling,” she mentioned. “When the second quake occurred, I believed to myself, ‘There is no means I will survive this. There is no means I will see the sunshine of day once more.’”

Al-Mousa was finally pulled out after three and a half hours and brought to hospital. Her husband, youngsters, and sister-in-law didn’t survive.

4 days later, she gave start to a son and named him after his father, Omar.

“I can not take into consideration something,” she mentioned, her voice trailing off. “I am simply relieved to have somebody left for me on this world.”

Sakhaa al-Mousa lost her husband and two young boys in the earthquake, gave birth to another son days after she was pulled out from beneath the rubble in Atarib, northwest Syria
Sakhaa al-Mousa misplaced her husband and two younger boys within the earthquakes, and gave start to a different son days after she was pulled out from beneath the rubble in Atarib, northwest Syria [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Absence of heavy gear

Al-Mousa is one in every of many who misplaced total households to the 7.8 and seven.6 magnitude quakes that struck Turkey and Syria.

greater than 46,000 individuals have been killed, with the loss of life toll anticipated to climb as many individuals are nonetheless lacking.

Neither Turkey nor Syria have mentioned how many individuals are nonetheless unaccounted for. The Syrian authorities and United Nations mentioned greater than 5,800 individuals died on this nation alone.

Within the rebel-held northwest, the devastation wrought by the quakes was compounded by the delay in humanitarian support and the absence of worldwide efforts in search-and-rescue operations.

As a substitute, the Syria Civil Protection, often known as the White Helmets, was on the forefront of digging by rubble with restricted sources, and on February 10 – 4 days after the quakes came about – introduced in a press convention the top of their rescue efforts. .

“The absence of heavy gear able to coping with pure disasters affected the power of the groups to reply in a well timed method,” mentioned Munir al-Mustafa, the deputy director of the White Helmets. “We do not have superior thermal gear able to detecting these trapped beneath the rubble, in addition to skilled police canines.”

Al-Mustafa additionally pointed to the aftershocks, chilly winter climate, and heavy rain within the first two days following the quakes, which impeded rescue operations and led to additional concrete collapses.

“At the moment, we’re persevering with our work in eradicating rubble from roads and very important areas, and our groups are able to observe up on any report of lacking individuals,” he mentioned.

The White Helmets misplaced 4 members together with their households. In line with al-Mustafa, 2,274 individuals died within the northwest area, with greater than 12,400 others wounded.

“Our groups documented the collapse of greater than 550 buildings, whereas greater than 1,570 buildings had been partially broken and 1000’s of buildings and houses had been cracked all through the earthquake-hit areas,” he mentioned.

More than 550 buildings were completely destroyed in northwest Syria, while more than 1,570 buildings were partially damaged.
Greater than 550 buildings had been fully destroyed in northwest Syria, with 1,570 broken. [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

‘Like shedding part of your physique’

The quakes have solely compounded the psychological trauma of residents of the territory – which is residence to greater than 4 million Syrians, half of whom are internally displaced by Syria’s 12-year battle and have fled government-controlled areas.

Healthcare specialists have warned that earthquake survivors might improvement longer-term psychological well being issues, corresponding to melancholy or post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD), and that psychological well being within the area is anticipated to additional deteriorate within the wake of the catastrophe.

Two of Tariq al-Sayel’s six youngsters died after his condo constructing fell within the city of Absinya. He additionally misplaced 70 kin on each side of his household.

“It is like shedding part of your physique,” mentioned the 37-year-old.

Tariq al-Sayel, who lost 70 relatives, and one of his daughters
Tariq al-Sayel, who misplaced 70 kin, and one in every of his daughters [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Again in Atarib, Mahmoud Omar al-Ormi recounted how he misplaced virtually his total household, with the deaths together with his pregnant spouse and 4 of his six youngsters, who ranged from 18 months to fifteen years outdated.

“I advised my spouse Adeela – might God relaxation her soul – I wished to exit and see what was taking place,” he mentioned, describing the primary moments of the quake. No sooner had he and his son Ahmad, 7, reached the entrance door, than their residence collapsed, burying half of his physique.

Ahmad was the primary to be rescued and Mahmoud was pulled out half an hour later.

“I used to be bleeding from my head and my legs. I believed I used to be dying,” he mentioned. “When the rescuers pulled me out, I felt like I used to be reborn.”

The sensation did not final lengthy as he waited for hours for any signal of life from his spouse and 5 different youngsters.

After eight hours, simply after midday on the identical day, his two-year-old daughter Shareefa was pulled out, her face closely bruised and her eyes swollen shut, however alive.

He waited till the subsequent night time earlier than rescuers pulled out the lifeless our bodies of his spouse, his different two sons, Omar, 15, and Sha’ban, 14, and his daughters who had been 13 years and 18 months outdated.

“I spend my days strolling in our neighborhood, trying on the sheer scale of the destruction,” al-Ormi mentioned.

“I go to their graves each night time and shout at my household to reply to me and cry once they do not. That is God’s will and we’ve to simply accept it,” he mentioned, his voice breaking.

Further reporting by Linah Alsaafin

Mahmoud Omar al-Ormi spends his days visiting the graves of his family and walking among the rubble in Atarib, northwest Syria
Mahmoud Omar al-Ormi spends his days visiting the graves of his household and strolling among the many rubble in Atarib, northwest Syria [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *