Follow the latest news on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria
A Dubai teacher lost her sister, niece and nephew after their building collapsed in the Syria earthquake. Her other nephew was the only one in the family to survive.
Eman Al Sabbouh, 39, her sons Ahmad, 12, and Mohammad, 17, and daughter Rama, 22, were sleeping in their fourth-floor apartment in Hama on Monday when the earthquake struck.
“Ahmad said they awoke to pieces of the ceiling falling off,” said Syrian Rima Al Sabbouh, 50, who has been living in Dubai for 27 years and worked as a supervisor at Dubai’s National Charity School until two years ago.
She said Eman gathered her children and rushed to get out of the building, that was falling apart.
“Ahmad said that before they could open the door, his elder brother returned to the room to pick up the mobile phone, but didn’t come back,” said Ms Al Sabbouh.
A wall fell on top of him and he was killed.
Eman then opened the apartment door to find the stairs had completely collapsed, leaving them with no way out.
Ms Al Sabbouh said that her sister started screaming and repeating the Shahada — the Islamic declaration of faith.
“Ahmad said they all went into silence after which he lost consciousness. He opened his eyes to see people’s arms trying to get him from under the rubble,” said Ms Al Sabbouh.
Ahmad fractured his leg and arm and suffered bruises to his face. He hasn't been able to sleep at night since it happened.
“He keeps repeating ‘would the earth shake again’, my sister told me,” said Ms Al Sabbouh.
After he recovers from his injuries, Ahmad will move to live with his other sister Diana, 20, who moved to the outskirts of Aleppo after getting married three months ago.
“For three months, Diana kept posting how much she misses her mother. Now she lost her forever,” Ms Al Sabbouh said.
She said Eman had moved her family south from Idlib to escape the conflict there.
“In 2013, her husband was shot dead in the head by snipers in Idlib city in north-western Syria,” she said.
“When she was in Idlib, we begged her to move out so she would not be killed in the war and when she moved out, she died in the place where we thought she would be safe.”
Ms Al Sabbouh said Eman, her daughter and her son were laid to rest in Idlib on Monday.
She said she has two brothers and one sister living in Turkey.
“They lost their homes in the earthquake and are now stranded,” she said.