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'Bodies littered the tables, hallways, the floor after horrific missile strike' - Syrian hospital director

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On 04 June, a missile strike hit a town centre in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria, and between 3pm and 7pm 130 wounded patients arrived at the small 12-bed facility.  (Photo: MSF)

On 04 June, a missile strike hit a town centre in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria, and between 3pm and 7pm 130 wounded patients arrived at the small 12-bed facility. (Photo: MSF)

MSF

Two patients being treated on one bed during a horrific mass-casualty influx at an MSF-supported field hospital in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria. (Photo: MSF)

Two patients being treated on one bed during a horrific mass-casualty influx at an MSF-supported field hospital in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria. (Photo: MSF)

MSF

A man holds a baby who survived what activists said was an explosion of a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the old city of Aleppo yesterday. Photo: Reuters

A man holds a baby who survived what activists said was an explosion of a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the old city of Aleppo yesterday. Photo: Reuters

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Children at a camp in Lebanon housing Syrian refugees who fled Hama province

Children at a camp in Lebanon housing Syrian refugees who fled Hama province

AFP/Getty Images

A Syrian refugee child begs for money on a street in the Lebanese capital, Beirut

A Syrian refugee child begs for money on a street in the Lebanese capital, Beirut

AFP/Getty Images

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On 04 June, a missile strike hit a town centre in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria, and between 3pm and 7pm 130 wounded patients arrived at the small 12-bed facility. (Photo: MSF)

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.”

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Two patients being treated on one bed during a horrific mass-casualty influx at an MSF-supported field hospital in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria. (Photo: MSF)

Two patients being treated on one bed during a horrific mass-casualty influx at an MSF-supported field hospital in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria. (Photo: MSF)

MSF

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.

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Turkish soldiers stand guard as a Syrian refugee boy waits behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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A family walks at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, at the eastern Ghouta of Damascus June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Amer Almohibany

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A child sits amid debris at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, at the eastern Ghouta of Damascus June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Amer Almohibany

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A man inspects a damaged building at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, at the eastern Ghouta of Damascus June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Amer Almohibany

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A women pushes her baby in a stroller as she walks with her child at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, at the eastern Ghouta of Damascus June 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Amer Almohibany

A women pushes her baby in a stroller as she walks with her child at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, at the eastern Ghouta of Damascus June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Amer Almohibany

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Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences as they are pictured from the Turkish side of the border, near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences as they are pictured from the Turkish side of the border, near Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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“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.

Online Editors