Death toll in Syria evacuees bomb blast now 112
The blast, carried out by a suicide bomber driving a booby-trapped potato truck, rocked the rebel-held Rashideen area in the countryside of Aleppo province, where buses carrying 5,000 pro-government Shiite people were waiting the reactivation of a deal designed to secure their transportation to government-controlled area in Aleppo.
Initial report had put the death toll at 39 people.
The blast shattered coaches and set cars on fire, leaving a trail of bodies including children, as the convoy waited in rebel territory near Aleppo.
There are fears of revenge attacks on a convoy of evacuees from rebel-held towns, being moved under a deal.
But reports suggest both convoys have resumed their journey or will do soon.
The “Four Towns” deal brokered by Iran and Qatar was meant to relieve suffering in besieged towns – Foah and Kefraya in the north-west which are under government control, and rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus.
About 20,000 besieged people would be taken out in all. According to AFP news agency, up to 5,000 government evacuees and 2,200 from rebel towns had been stranded in transit on Sunday.
Last month, the UN described the situation in the besieged towns as “catastrophic”. More than 64,000 civilians are “trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation”, it said.
The bomb reportedly went off at Rashidin, west of government-held Aleppo, around 15:30 local time (12:30 GMT) at the checkpoint where the handover was due to take place.
Syrian state media reported 39 deaths while other sources spoke of between 43 and 60 deaths. Hundreds of people are said to have been injured.
Images from the scene show bodies lying on the ground outside blackened and devastated vehicles.
“There are dead people everywhere. You can see tens of burnt out cars, bodies everywhere,” said an unnamed eyewitness, describing the carnage for Syria’s Qasioun news agency.
“Emergency staff and opposition factions are evacuating the wounded and the martyrs [the dead].”
An AFP correspondent west of Aleppo, speaking before the explosion, said the coaches carrying government evacuees had not moved in 30 hours.