On Monday 20 February at 08:20 PM – almost exactly two weeks since the devastating tragedy of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes – Tearfund church partners in Aleppo were meeting and we were sharing stories of the suffering and heroism that many Syrians had lived through on that dark night, when suddenly we felt the earth shaking under our feet.
At first, we didn’t understand what was happening. Then, we saw a mother running in search of her children, a sister running in the other direction to carry her brother with special needs, and many elderly people scrambling to get out of the building – holding on to one another and the few possessions they still owned.
On the streets of Aleppo in the severe cold
Everyone ran towards the road only to find another surreal scene – people running in many different directions, screaming, crying and drivers honking car horns – a sound which only increased people's terror.
We made it out to the street. On the pavement were dozens of families who had left their homes in a hurry. They were dressed in whatever they had been wearing, and had wrapped themselves in blankets to ward off the severe cold.
Down the street, we saw a little girl embracing her father, weeping inconsolably.
A group of women stood holding the hands of the bishop of the church. One asked in a sad, pained voice, ‘Why?’