"Thank God I'm fine. I got out of this charred car immediately after the explosion," said media activist Mohammed Yassin, who spoke about what happened in Al-Rashideen explosion, Syria. He described the scene after the explosion as "catastrophic".
Yassin's testimony to Arabi21 came after the explosion that hit Al-Rashideen bus depot, which transports people from Kafriya to Fua. Some 100 people were killed, more than half children, according to UNICEF. Some 220 people were injured.
"The situation was very calm. There were some organisations distributing food to women and children from the two towns. There were also talks between the factions' fighters and the people concerning their views on the factions, as well as their comments on the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack. There were also a large number of media activists reporting what is happening," Yassin said regarding the situation prior to the explosion. There were 40 buses carrying 2,000 people, he explained.
"Suddenly, while I was in my car, I heard the sound of a big explosion, heavy dust entered the car and shrapnel fell on it. This made me quickly get out of the car, and that's when I saw the bodies on the ground and I started searching for my brother among the injured."
While I was searching for my brother at the scene of the explosion, I helped more than 13 children and women from Fua and Kafriya. I handed them to the ambulance that was carrying the injured to the hospital. Some of them lost their feet and some others lost their hands. The scene was a pool of blood, full of scattered corpses.
Yassin revealed that there were no Red Crescent medical personnel at the scene, despite their presence in the area a few minutes earlier. He pointed out that media activists and relief workers helped the injured at the scene of the explosion.
International news agencies and a number of social media sites posted pictures and videos showing media activists, as well as media correspondents, including Al Jazeera correspondent Adham Abu Al-Hossam, helping the victims. Activists took to social media to compare the conduct of those at the scene to the pro-regime media who seized the opportunity to interview the injured.
Yassin explained that his injuries were not as serious as those of the other victims. However, he suffered significant material losses as he lost his media equipment, including his computer and camera. His car was also completely burnt.
According to medical sources, more than 200 people were taken to field hospitals in the opposition-held areas in northern Syria. They were given the necessary treatment and some underwent reconstructive surgery. Children with critical fractures to their hands and feet were also treated.
In an interview with Arabi21, the head of media relations in Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham, Imed Eddin Mujahid, accused the regime or Daesh of being involved in the explosion. However, he pointed out that investigations are still underway to identify who is responsible for the attack.
However, eyewitnesses and a number of humanitarian organisations confirmed, during an interview with Arabi21, that the regime is the only suspect in this explosion since the car that exploded came from regime-held areas. They also pointed out that most victims were children, as free bags of chips were being given out to children at the scene when the explosion occurred.
Translated from Arabi21, 17 April 2017
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