Wards ring with cries of dying and bereaved

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The Independent Online
Tyre - Old men and women wept with grief and the young screamed with agony and rage as the children were brought in, two or three little bodies packed into each bag.

Red Cross workers carried in the big orange bags, put them on the hospital floor and unzipped them. They felt the pulse of each dead child inside to be sure they were dead, then they zipped them up again. "Oh, what a crime," said a Red Cross worker.

In the halls and wards, the wounded and bereaved shouted, or writhed on the floor in grief and agony. The floors were slick with blood.

On the floor of an operating theatre a young man lay dying, apparently forgotten, his shirt torn off and his jeans open.

Outside, in the streets of this ancient city just 14 miles north of Israel's border, crowds of women wailed as the dead, wounded and dying were brought in by cars and ambulances.

Bloodied and shocked, they flooded into Tyre's Najem (Star) hospital. "May God send a plague on you, Israel," shouted one woman. "I want my brothers and my sister," she screamed, her face smeared with blood.

Women stood together weeping in anguish. Amid the chaos, doctors worked wherever they could find space. On beds, benches, tables and in operating theatres. Scores of injured lay in corridors as the wards overflowed.

Ten-year-old Mariam Haidar, her face ripped by shrapnel, said she saw her sister die as Israeli shells exploded. "I looked at my sister and I saw blood coming out of her mouth, then the building started collapsing on us," she said.

Every hospital in Tyre issued calls for blood donors and doctors. When the morgues overflowed, truckloads of corpses were sent to Sidon.

Fadi Jaber, 21, wept as he told how the first Israeli shell slammed into the refugees crowded into the base of Fijian United Nations peace- keeping troops, and the soldiers told them to go down into shelters.

"Then a second shell hit us, followed by three more at one-minute intervals," Mr Jaber said.

"I heard people scream Allahu Akbar [God is Greatest]. A woman fainted so I reached over to check her head and her brains fell out into my hands," he added.

"I saw a dead Unifil captain whose shoulder was blown off. His stomach was gutted open and blood was spilling from it."