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“I fear the death toll will continue to rise...”

Emergency Rehabilitation

Sharif (name change) is a surgeon from a HI partner hospital in northern Syria near the Turkish border. He recounts what he has seen following the February 6 earthquake.

About 20 people standing atop a collapsed building's rubble

A building destroyed by the earthquake | © HI partner in North Syria

Hospitals are overwhelmed

"I work at a hospital on the Syrian-Turkish border. We're all exhausted, having worked for 30 hours straight. The pressure on all of us is intense. Most of those whose homes have collapsed are dead.

I am shocked. This is the first disaster of this magnitude I have ever witnessed.

Our hospital teams, including myself, are tired, but we cannot stop working. Ambulances keep coming and going, and we are deeply sorry and sad for all the victims.

We are treating many people with severe injuries, crushed limbs, and complex wounds. The situation is very bad...

People are under shock.

Many buildings are destroyed and rescue teams don't have enough equipment or personnel to save everyone.

Our hospital lacks essentials like mattresses, food, blood bags and surgical kits. We have to use 200 gallons of fuel for our generators every day to power medical equipment and I'm worried that we'll soon run out.

Everyone we encounter is in shock. People are shouting. A woman lost her six-month-old baby and two daughters, and she can't stop asking "Where's my baby? Where are my daughters?" People are becoming crazy with sadness. I am so sorry for them.

Freezing temperature

Some of the injured are refusing surgery until they find out about their relatives. It's a source of great distress. We don't know what to tell them when they ask about their loved ones... Many of our staff have also lost family members.

It's very cold and rainy these days and the emergency operations are difficult. In some areas, it's too dangerous to approach the buildings because they might collapse.

I fear the death toll will continue to rise, as there are still many people trapped in the rubble that we cannot rescue."

Date published: 02/13/23


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