Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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Somalia struggles to cope with aftermath of blast

More than 30 wounded people were flown to Turkey on Monday for further treatment, officials said [Feisal Omar/Reuters]


– 276 killed, more than 300 injured


– More than 100 feared missing


– Victims severely burned


– Turkey steps in to support medical efforts


– Mogadishu needs more tools to remove rubble

Somali health workers are struggling to identify and treat the victims of the country’s deadliest attack, as more than 100 people are feared missing.

A truck bomb blast on Saturday in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, killed at least 276 people and injured more than 300.

Dozens are officially missing, but Al Jazeera has learned that the number could be closer to 100 people.

The death toll is expected to rise, with people believed to be buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings.

“We expect the death toll will rise today,” said Abdirahman Omar Osman, Somalia’s information minister, adding that rescuers need extra support because the city’s tools cannot move the amount of rubble.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, he said: “We are still collecting information from hospitals and relatives of victims. Many people were taken to hospital with very serious injuries. We also have reports of relatives taking injured people away from hospitals.”

Turkey has responded to a government request for international help as some of Somalia’s hospitals cannot treat patients with complicated injuries.

“Some of the wounded need special care that cannot be treated here. Several will be flown to Turkey today after they answered our request for help,” Osman said.

A Turkish medical team led by Ahmet Demircan, the health minister, arrived in Mogadishu on Monday morning to help evacuate more than 30 people for further treatment.

‘I just want to see my son’

As doctors and rescue workers struggle, relatives continue to search hospitals for their missing loved ones.

Abdiaziz Omar Ibrahim has not slept for the past 48 hours searching for his older brother, Ahmed.

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Abdiaziz, right, and the youngest son of his brother Ahmed, who is missing after the blast

As well as travelling from hospital to hospital, he uses his bare hands to remove rubble from where Ahmed’s milk stall used to be.

“I went to all the hospitals in Mogadishu. I looked through every all the wards, but we haven’t found him,” Ibrahim told Al Jazeera, his voice cracking over the phone as he struggled to hold back emotions.

“He has seven children. The youngest is four years old. He is the family’s only breadwinner. We don’t know if he is dead or alive,” Ibrahim said. “I spoke to him one hour before the explosion. Now there is no trace of him.”

South of the city in the Wadajir district, another family waits for news.

Abdullahi Mohamed, 20, was at the family’s small restaurant in Zoobe, a few metres from where the truck exploded. He remains missing.

“What can we do? We went everywhere. We even went to cemeteries but found nothing. Only Allah knows where my son is. We can’t find our son, and our restaurant is gone.

The government said it was doing all it could to find missing people.

“We have established a national emergency operation centre where we were helping those missing relatives. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition, and others were blown to pieces,” said Osman, the information minister.

“We are also in the process of starting a fund to help those who have lost properties and businesses.”

But for now, families of those missing are focused only on finding their relatives.

“I just want to see my son. That is all I want. Nothing else. The rest I want to leave it to Allah to deal with,” said Mohamed, Abdullahi Mohamed’s father.

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