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

Emergency
International Syria

Elyas (Not his real name) is member of HI team in northwest Syria. He and his family have experienced the earthquake. They are safe but still under shock.

People walk in front of a collapsed building with a wounded person

Emergency search and rescue crews search through 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 flats 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, we decided to stay in our car with my family 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 houses are damaged in my city and around. The consequences of the earthquake are really felt in all the areas…

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

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: 13/02/23

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