Racing against time to save lives after the earthquake, rescuers in northwestern Syria are crying out for help due to a lack of equipment.
“We lack the essentials. We need big cranes to remove large pieces [of debris]. We need heavy equipment to deal with this tragedy,” said Munir Mustafa, deputy head of the White Helmets relief organization on Thursday.
“We are using hands and shovels to clear the debris. Some of us haven’t slept more than six hours in the last 70 hours,” said Ubadah Zekra, who coordinates rescue operations with the White Helmets and is now helping himself .
He added that some volunteers refuse to take time off because they want to try and save as many lives as possible.
“Emotionally it’s been difficult for most of us, because we’re mostly looking for our relatives and sometimes our families,” she said.
North-western Syria, the last stronghold of the Syrian rebels, was hit hard by the earthquake which also affected parts of neighboring Turkey.
After more than a decade of fighting and air raids, many residential areas, hospitals and other structures were destroyed even before the earthquake.
In addition to heavy equipment, there is now a shortage of shelter, blankets, food, water, medicine, fuel, vehicles and more, according to the United Nations.
It is not only the rescuers who are desperate, but many relatives of the victims still buried under large pieces of rubble are losing patience.
“What can I say. The world has given up on us as always. We have lost everything,” a resident of Jindires town said on the phone in a trembling voice; Twenty members of his family are still buried under the rubble.
“The first day we heard their voices from under the rubble, but then they [the voices] it slowly faded away. The situation is desperate.”