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White Helmets say death toll expected to rise significantly in rebel-held northwest Syria

Hundreds of families remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings in northwest Syria following Monday’s powerful earthquake, according to the White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense.

More than 790 victims have been confirmed dead in rebel-held parts of northwest Syria, and more than 2,200 injured, the White Helmets said on Twitter.

However, “the numbers are expected to rise significantly because hundreds of families are still under the rubble,” the group said.

More than 210 buildings were destroyed by the quake in northwest Syria, the group added.

Some context: Syria, a country already suffering the effects of civil war, is facing widespread devastation from the quake. More than 1,500 fatalities and 3,600 wounded have been reported across the country, according to officials.

Some 4 million people in northern Syria were already displaced and relying on humanitarian support as a result of war, a UNICEF spokesman said earlier. Among major concerns now are a lack of access to shelter and safe drinking water amid freezing weather conditions and the risk of diseases such as cholera spreading.

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