Newborn Baby Rescued from Rubble in Syria as Earthquake Death Toll Soars Past 6,000
A newborn baby survived after being pulled from the rubble in Syria, which has been devastated by Monday's earthquakes.
Agence France-Presse reported that the newborn was still attached to her mother by the umbilical cord when she was rescued, according to Al Jazeera.
"We heard a voice while we were digging," Khalil al-Suwadi, a relative said, according to the news agency. "We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord [intact], so we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital."
Local activists reported that the child's mother gave birth under the rubble, and that she died before being rescued, per CBS News.
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The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said that a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake — one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years — struck in southern Turkey near the northern border of Syria on Monday morning, followed 11 minutes later by a magnitude 6.7 aftershock.
RAMI AL SAYED/AFP via Getty Newborn baby receives medical care at a clinic in Afrin after being rescued
Approximately nine hours later, another 7.5-magnitude quake hit in Turkey, according to the USGS.
According to UNICEF, the initial earthquake hit around 4:00 a.m. local time "when many children and families were asleep at home."
With the death toll still rising, as of Tuesday over 6,200 people have died as a result of the quakes, per The New York Times.
The World Health Organization has warned that the number of deaths could ultimately exceed 20,000.
OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Rescuers searching in the village of Besnaya, located in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province at the border with Turkey
As of Tuesday evening local time, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey said the death toll in the country stood at 4,544, according to The New York Times.
Additionally, at least 5,775 buildings have collapsed in Turkey, according to an official with Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Agency's general director (AFAD), per CNN.
In Syria, the state Health Ministry said at least 1,731 people have died, according to the Times.
Per CNN, over 970 people have died in opposition-held area, according to Syria's White Helmets, also known as Syria Civil Defense. Additionally, the outlet also reported that in government-controlled areas, 812 have died, citing state news agency SANA.
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Officials have warned that as more time passes, the likelihood of being able to rescue survivors, who are also coping with freezing weather, will decrease.
"The later people are found under the rubble, the worse the chances for survival get," said Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, a regional emergency director for the World Health Organization told the Times.
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Officials say the situation in Syria is particularly dire.
"All over Syria, the needs are highest after nearly 12 years of protracted, complex crisis, while humanitarian funding continues to decline," said Adelheid Marschang, WHO Senior Emergency Officer, according to CBS News.
Per the Times, Syria cannot receive direct aid from a number of countries due to sanctions against its president's government. Additionally, the only UN-approved crossing for humanitarian aid between the two countries is currently closed due to damage.
Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Search and rescue operations in Idlib, Syria
President Erdoğan declared a three-month state of emergency for his country on Tuesday.
"Two major earthquakes, whose epicenters are the Pazarcık and Elbistan districts of Kahramanmaraş, have caused grave destruction in 10 provinces within a large area where 13.5 million citizens live," he said during a speech. "Both of the earthquakes took place in such a close proximity as seven kilometers to the earth surface, which exponentially increases the intensity of the destruction."
"The gravity of the earthquake disaster we have experienced makes it imperative for us to implement extraordinary measures,," President Erdoğan continued.
In addition to the state of emergency, there will be a seven day period of national mourning.
To help earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria, conside donating to these organizations: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, GlobalGiving, Save the Children, and The Syrian American Medical Society.