Naser al-Wakaa, a quake survivor, attends the funeral of some of his family members, in the aftermath of the earthquake, in rebel-held town of Jandaris, Syria February 7, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Jandaris, Syria: Two of Naser al-Wakaa's children were pulled alive from the rubble of their home in the Syrian town of Jandaris after Monday's earthquake, appearing on video as rescuers reached them in the darkness of night, bruised and covered in dust.

Another of his children had also survived. But as Wakaa sat in the ruins, amid concrete blocks and twisted metal, he wailed for his wife and other dead children, cradling baby clothes to his face.

In the confusion of his grief, it was not clear from Wakaa's account how many children he had lost, but among the names he listed for his dead children were those of three boys and three girls.

"Bilal, oh Bilal," he cried.

Wakaa recalled the moment the earthquake hit - very different to the air strikes, rockets and barrel bombs he said they had survived during Syria's ongoing civil war.

"I ran out of the house and said 'please God, let one survive. I just want one of my kids'," he said.

The disaster has killed more than 21,000 people, mostly in Turkey, but also including more than 3,000 in Syria.

Jandaris, just across the border from Turkey, suffered massive damage with many houses razed and others partially collapsed. Mechanical diggers, rescue workers and ordinary people who escaped injury have spent days trying to pull out remaining survivors.

A U.N. agency said 14 aid trucks had crossed into northwest Syria on Friday, the first outside humanitarian assistance to reach a region worst affected by Monday's earthquake.

After the quake, Wakaa had called for several of his sons, Faisal, Meshal, Mohsin and Mansour, and was reassured by neighbours. But then he learned that Faisal and Mohsin had both perished, already dead when the rescuers reached them.

He held a scrap of paper showing writing by his eldest daughter Heba, found dead holding in her lap the body of her little sister Israa. Their other sister, Samiha, was found dead nearby.

Later, as a crowd gathered at the cemetery, he watched as gravediggers lowered the body of one of his children, shrouded in white, into a communal grave where several other victims of the disaster already lay.