The desperate race to save people trapped under the rubble in northern Syria poses unique challenges that aid groups and local volunteers warn could mean deadly delays in aid reaching the war-torn part of the country and Earthquake.

Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a resident of Darat Izza in the northwest, described hearing voices below collapsed buildings as rescuers worked in icy conditions with little or no heavy machinery.

“We were hearing screams and messages,” Alhamdo said in an interview with NBC News Now. “We couldn’t do anything,” he added, describing how he and other volunteers removed the rubble with their bare hands.

«I couldn’t sleep at night, because they were still in my ears,» he said.

A man cries sitting on the rubble of a collapsed building in the town of Jindayris on Tuesday.Aaref Watad / AFP – Getty Images

Damage from the quake temporarily closed the Bab-al-Hawa crossing, a humanitarian aid corridor that is the only official way to enter the rebel-held area from outside Syria, said Sanjani Quazi, deputy head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs‘ regional office for the syrian crisis.

The delivery of UN assistance across the Turkish border into Syria «has been temporarily suspended,» he said.

Bab-al-Hawa is a lifeline for the opposition-controlled strip of northeastern Syria, a region that is home to many anti-government fighters and their families who fled their hometowns during the war.

Isolated and shelled by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s most important international ally, Russia, 90% of the area’s 4.4 million people rely on humanitarian aidaccording to the World Food Program.

Weeks before Monday’s earthquake, the UN Security Council said in a statement that humanitarian needs in Syria had reached the «highest levels» since the civil war began in 2011, amid an ongoing cholera outbreak and a mercilessly freezing winter.

Charles Lister, director of the Syria and Counterterrorism and Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute, told NBC News that «not a single ounce of international aid has reached northwest Syria» since the earthquake, due to «extensive damage in the main access road. in Turkey bound for the Bab-al-Hawa crossing, and understaffed.

According to the White Helmets volunteer first aid, as of Wednesday morning 1,280 people had been killed in rebel-held territories in Syria and more than 2,600 injured. The quakes completely destroyed more than 360 buildings and severely damaged more than 1,000, the organization added. The numbers are expected to continue to rise.

More than 2,000 volunteers were working in freezing temperatures overnight in northwestern Syria, said Ismail Alabdullah, who has volunteered with the White Helmets since 2013.

The 36-year-old described how he woke up when the earthquake struck on Monday, frantically grabbed his one-month-old daughter from her bed and ran out of his house with the rest of his family and into the street.

“After just a few minutes, I heard screams from the neighbors that a building had collapsed on them,” Alabdullah said. “We lost seventeen people just in my neighborhood.”

Despite the chance of finding survivors dwindling with each passing hour, Alabdullah said volunteers saved three brothers trapped under rubble in Atareb, about 10 miles from the Turkish border.

It has become normal for volunteers to pull people out of collapsed buildings in the area that were shelled by the Assad regime and its Russian backers. Now, with the destructive force of an earthquake upon us, the rescue efforts were «totally different,» Alabdullah said.

Shortages of diesel, generators, heavy lifting equipment, shelters and medical facilities have put titanic pressures on rescuers, Alabdullah added.

“Until now, no one has said that we will send equipment to northwest Syria,” Alabdullah said of the Syrian government and international aid. “It will take time and we will lose lives.”