'Hundreds trapped under rubble' in northwest Syria after devastating earthquake

'Hundreds trapped under rubble' in northwest Syria after devastating earthquake
At least 147 were killed in northwest Syria after a devastating earthquake on Monday, with the death toll "likely to rise" as families are found under the rubble.
2 min read
06 February, 2023
Syrian Civil Defense urged the international community to help northwest Syria in its recovery, saying local organisations were completely overwhelmed. [Getty]

At least 147 were killed and 340 injured in northwest Syria after a devastating earthquake Monday morning, with the death toll "likely to rise" as medics dig out hundreds of families trapped under rubble, a medical source told The New Arab.

"We are on maximum alert to rescue those trapped under the rubble. Tens of thousands of families are homeless. There are hundreds of destroyed buildings and thousands of damaged buildings," Munir Moustafa, the vice director of Idlib Civil Defense's humanitarian affairs division, told TNA.

The 7.8 earth magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria in the early hours of the morning on Monday, killing hundreds and levelling buildings across the two countries.

The earthquake, one of the region's largest in the past century, hit Syria especially hard, where war-torn infrastructure and internally displaced people (IDPs) in substandard housing were already vulnerable.

Years of shelling by Russian and regime jets also left many buildings on shaky foundations prior to Monday's earthquake.

"The scale of the disaster is beyond our capacity. It is not possible to respond," Moustafa said.

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He urged the international community to assist the humanitarian response in northwest Syria, emphasising that the around two million IDPs in the area would need more aid than local organisations could provide.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned on Monday that the earthquake would worsen the existing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

"In the midst of a winter storm and an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, it is vital that Syrians are not left to face the aftermath of their own," Carl Hansen, the Middle East regional director for NRC said.

Molham, a Turkey-based relief organisation working in northwest Syria, started a fundraiser early Monday morning to assist with the relief response.

"Currently, we are focusing on the most urgent needs, such as heating for families and finding new houses, as well as [securing] food," Faisal al-Aswad, an emergency response coordinator with Molham, told TNA.

Syrian Civil Defense further urged the international community to put pressure on Russia and the Assad regime to not bomb the affected areas so that humanitarian operations could proceed unhindered.

Regime-held areas of Syria were also badly affected, with at least 240 dead and 600 injured, according to the Syrian Ministry of Health.

The President of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday afternoon to "express solidarity" and offer assistance for the country's recovery.