White Helmets rescue team says Syria ‘in a state of catastrophe’ after quake
Hundreds killed in Syria, many in rebel-held areas; rescuers fear toll will rise with people trapped under rubble, stuck in freezing conditions
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Hundreds of people have been killed in Syria, at least 120 of them in rebel-held areas, after an earthquake rattled neighboring Turkey on Monday, rescue workers said.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck before dawn near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, about 40 kilometers from the Syrian border.
It left northwestern Syria “in a state of catastrophe” with “destruction, devastation, and collapse of buildings,” the White Helmets rescue group said on Twitter.
The group said the quake left “120+ civilians… dead, 230+ injured” in Idlib province and the countryside of Aleppo province, adding the death toll was expected to rise as “hundreds of families are still trapped under rubble.”
The White Helmets have vast experience in rescuing people from collapsed buildings, having formed as an emergency service to help civilians during airstrikes in the country’s devastating civil war.
A doctor at a hospital in the countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib said it had received the bodies of 30 people.
“After the earthquake which occurred today, we received 100 injured and 30 martyrs,” said Dr. Majid Ibrahim of the Al-Rahma hospital.
“The situation is too bad because a lot of people are still under the debris of the buildings,” he told AFP.
In government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria, the death toll from the earthquake was at least 237, according to the health ministry.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.