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“We sleep in the car as it seem the safest place so far”

International Syria

Elyas (name change) is a member of the HI team in northwest Syria. He and his family experienced the devestating earthquake in early February. They are safe but still under shock.

Two men supporting an injured woman walking in front of a collapsed building

Survivors fleeing the rubble of destroyed buildings in Hatay, Antakya, Turkey, caused by the recent earthquakes | © T. Nicholson / HI

People screaming all around us

“It was about 4:20 AM last Monday when the earthquake struck. My wife and 5-year-old daughter were sleeping, but I was already awake. We felt strong vibrations and heard screams from children and women in our building and nearby.

My family and I rushed into the street, which was already crowded with people who were screaming, crying, and calling for help. Fortunately, we were safe, but two children in neighbouring units were injured due to collapsing walls. I am deeply saddened because some of my friends have passed away.

We prefer to stay in the cars

Like many in my neighbourhood, our family decided to stay in our car as it seems to be the safest place at the time and because we are afraid of the aftershocks. We did not want to return to our homes, unsure if they would collapse in the following days.

Yesterday, I returned to our home briefly to get blankets, as it was very cold, ranging from 0 to minus 3 degrees. People were starting fires in the streets to stay warm. Fortunately, some small restaurants had reopened, providing food after the disaster.

Many are homeless

Thousands of house are damaged in my city and nearby. The consequences of the earthquake are widespread.

The primary need of the people is shelter, heats, tents and blankets, as many fear to return to their homes and stay in the street and others are homeless. I also see a lot people who are injured or psychologically traumatized.  

My daughter is scared of aftershocks and won't stop crying, but I try to comfort her, telling her that the earthquake is over and will never happen again.

I am exhausted, having been unable to sleep, but I will remain strong for my daughter and family.”

Date published: 02/13/23


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