Published: 2023-02-23 15:29
Last Updated: 2023-03-24 01:36
Sitting by a bed strewn with rubble in Syria's second biggest city, Umm Mounir refuses to leave her home even though the deadly earthquake has torn a gaping hole into the room.
Aleppo was one of the cities affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck in early February, killing more than 45,000 people across Turkey and Syria and flattening entire neighbourhoods.
The building adjacent to Umm Mounir's collapsed, ripping the rear facade off her own home.
"Nothing will make me move out of my house except death," the 55-year-old told AFP.
She lives by herself on the fourth floor of the heavily damaged seven-storey building.
"I will only leave for the grave."
Her city suffered great losses in the February 6 quake that flattened 54 of its buildings and damaged historic sites.
With at least 432 fatalities, Aleppo accounts for nearly a third of all deaths in government-held parts of Syria, according to state media.
Officials and medics across Syria put the overall Syrian death toll at more than 3,600 people.
- 'Everything collapsed' -
When the new quake hit, Umm Mounir grabbed her 85-year-old neighbour Amina Raslan, who lives on the first floor, and they rushed out.
"She can't run, so I held her hand and we walked as fast as we could," Umm Mounir said.
Puffing a cigarette, 55-year-old Ali al-Bash said he wished they could leave their damaged home, but that "we have nowhere else to go".
Raslan's eyes welled with tears as she recalled the destruction of the home she said her family had lived in for 50 years.
"Everything collapsed," she told AFP as her grandchildren were playing around her.
The family, like many others, did not want to move to a shelter but could not afford to rent a new home, Raslan said.
Some Aleppo residents, however, have left ravaged homes for tents.
Mohammed Jawish, 63, now lives in a makeshift camp with dozens of families after his building partially collapsed.
"If I still had a house I wouldn't be here," he said, watching his grandchildren -- some of them barefoot in the winter cold -- play with a worn-out football.
Jawish told AFP the quake cost him his belongings and sent him "back to square one".
"My chest feels tight when I'm in this small tent," he said. "I feel I could die from sorrow."