Turkey-Syria earthquake: Doctor describes conditions in Syrian hospital with ‘dying children’ and ‘no electricity’ | world news

A doctor from an earthquake-hit region of northern Syria described the hospital he worked in as “resembling a war zone”.

Frantic efforts to rescue hundreds of people trapped under the rubble continue after a massive earthquake hit southeastern Turkey and northern Syria early on Monday, killing more than 3,500 people.

Dr. Osama Sallom of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) works at Bab Al Hawa Hospital, which has received over 400 injured and reported over 50 deaths.

“Most of the patients are children who bleed and freeze to death. [after being stuck under debris]“, said Dr. Sallom.

“We are looking under the rubble, but it is very cold. It will be -1 or -2C for the rescue teams working at night.

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Rescuers dig through the rubble of destroyed buildings in Idlib, Syria, in search of survivors after a deadly earthquake

“We are seeing more and more patients every hour and our hospital is overwhelmed with patients filling the hallways.”

Dr Sallom said there was “a huge shortage of staff and equipment” at the hospital and all wards were busy with patients, mostly women and children.

Learn more about the Turkey-Syria earthquake

“All our beds are full – people have to lie on the floor. After a few hours we won’t have any space on the floor,” he said.

“It’s reminiscent of a war zone – it gives a lot of people traumatic memories.

“Every moment I hear ambulances coming with more casualties. The chance of saving people is decreasing every hour.”

Rescuers work near the site of a collapsed building, following an earthquake, in Hama, Syria
Rescuers work near the site of a collapsed building, following an earthquake, in Hama, Syria

SAMS responded to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Syria, Turkey and the Atareb region, where the hospital is located, on Monday morning.

Dr Sallom said the border was completely closed and patients could not be referred to Turkey, which put a strain on the hospital he works at.

He said: “We have to deal with complicated injuries ourselves – we only have one scanner and we don’t have specialist equipment. There is a huge need for scanners, but [patients] you have to wait three or four hours for a scan.”

He also spoke of the continuous aftershocks which occurred “every five minutes” and were “very strong”.

He added: “It’s catastrophic and we ourselves are scared. My friend, the director of the hospital, lost his family while my wife and child are in Turkey.”

‘I’m so sad’

The situation reminded Dr Sallom of the 2016 Aleppo attacks that destroyed hospitals, homes and killed hundreds of civilians.

In this photo taken Tuesday, October 11, 2016, provided by the Syrian civil defense group known as the White Helmets, Syrian civil defense workers sift through rubble in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, in Syria.  Activists and relief workers say an intensive day of shelling on besieged rebel-held parts of Aleppo left at least 25 people dead, including five children.  Rescuers pulled at least one living boy from under the rubble late Tuesday evening.  The Syrian Observatory of Hum based in Great Britain
The 2016 Aleppo attacks killed hundreds of civilians Pic: AP

He said: “I am so sad – this incident is worse for Syrians because we have lived for many years in a war-torn country.

“Now we have the same feeling.

“We are losing hope of saving children because of a huge need for consumables and medicine which will run out in the next few hours.”


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