A hospital director has described how bodies littered ‘the tables, in the hallways, on the floor’ after a horrific missile strike in a north-western Syrian town yesterday.
The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-supported hospital director described the horror of the mass-casualty influx into a nearby small makeshift hospital.
“The planes circled above us in the late afternoon and we waited. Would we become casualties? Would we become numbers?,” he told Independent.ie, through the charity MSF.
“At around 3pm we heard a deafening sound as a result of 3 rockets exploding in a town nearby. A town overwhelmed, desperate locals living alongside many displaced people from other areas in Syria.
“Apartment buildings and shops, demolished in a few minutes, all turned to rubble.
“Bodies ripped apart, flesh everywhere. This is a massacre. This is carnage.”
The doctor described a ‘state of hysteria’, first among families searching for their loved ones and, later, among medical staff.
“Only a few minutes after the first strike we received the first five wounded patients in our modest 12-bed makeshift hospital with just one operating theatre,” the doctor, who is staying anonymous for security reasons, said.
“Instead of calls to prayer coming from the mosques, there were loud pleas for help, imploring people to find the wounded and the dead beneath the rubble.
“The flow of wounded never stopped. The hospital was quickly overwhelmed; bodies were everywhere - on the tables, in the hallways, on the floor.
“The floor was full of blood. Medical staff and volunteers picked their way between the bodies of the wounded, doing what they could,” he continued.
“We received more than 100 injured people in the first few hours after the strikes, too many of them children. We could only treat around 80 patients, and we had to turn away 50; we didn’t have the capacity to treat their wounds.”
The director described how one woman came looking for her son. He said the medical team could identify him from her description, but knew he had been killed in the incident.
“She collapsed into tears and refused to identify the body. I only had one choice; I brought her his shirt,” he said.
“This tragic moment took place in a few seconds. I was helping my colleagues move and triage the patients in order for us to be able to give care first to those most critically wounded.
“There was blood everywhere, but we were running out of blood bags. Men and women donated their own blood to strangers.
“With the descent of night it became impossible to find people alive under the rubble. We will continue to find dead bodies in the next few days.
“As a medical team, the only choice we have is to replenish our supplies, gather our hopes, and prepare for the next tragedy.”
This latest incident comes after a harsh month in northern Syria, including three chlorine gas attacks reported by an MSF-supported health post in Idlib Governorate in late May.