Before the war, residents of al-Latamna in the northern Hama countryside would use caves as cool sitting rooms during the summer, or for storing food and supplies.
After FSA-affiliated rebels took over al-Latamna at the beginning of the revolution, and the regime began to target the area first with artillery and then warplanes, residents made caves suitable for daily living and moved underground. “Every family that stayed put in the city came to own a cave of its own,” Mahmoud al-Hamawi, a citizen journalist located al-Latamna, tells Syria Direct’s Futun a-Sheikh.
Residents outfit their caves with household furniture and water wells. As for those who continue to live in their houses, “they go back and forth between the cave and their home, moving with the sounds of warplanes in the sky.”
Q: When did the idea catch on to use caves to live in?
Before the revolution, most of the Hama countryside, and specifically al-Latamna, has a small number of caves. They weren’t particularly important before; some families used them as sitting rooms in the summer, considering they’re chilly, or used them as storehouses for extra household goods.
After the bombing began, people who owned these caves outfitted them [for living] and gathered inside, large groups as once, during the bombings. As time passed, and the regime began to use warplanes, people dug out additional caves and fixed them up. Every family that stayed put in the city came to own a cave of its own.”
Q: How do you make a cave suitable for living?
After digging out the cave, a family moves some of its furniture inside. Recently, people began signing up for electricity. Someone buys a diesel generator and his [cave neighbors] will ‘subscribe’ in order to use the electricity. People pay for electricity by the hour. My family and I pay SP5,000 [$27.00] a month to secure electricity four hours a day.
Some people have not outfitted their caves for living. So they go back and forth between the cave and their home, moving with the sounds of warplanes in the sky.