The US promises help to Syria despite rocky relations as quake death toll climbs higher

A Syrian man sits amidst the rubble as he waits for new about family members stuck under the wreckage in the town of Harim in Syria.
A Syrian man sits amidst the rubble as he waits for new about family members stuck under the wreckage in the town of Harim in Syria. Copyright OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP
By Euronews with AP & AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US will get help to the Syrian people affected by the devastating earthquake despite no relationship with their government.

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The United States' Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would help Syrian people affected by the devastating earthquake despite having no relationship with their government.

"We've tried to make sure that the assistance gets to where it's needed," he said.

"And that's the people who are affected by the horrific war that Assad has waged on his own people since 2011. And now in the case of the earthquake, the people affected by the earthquake."

Blinken's comments came after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington, DC.

Rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched Wednesday for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by the world’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade.

The confirmed death toll approached 12,000.

Emrah Gurel/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
A man sits in front of a destroyed building in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey on Wednesday.Emrah Gurel/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Search for survivors enters its third night

Rescue workers -- from Turkey and international teams -- are racing against time to find survivors amid the devastation of flattened towns and cities in southern Turkey and northern Syria, and continue to pull survivors from the wreckage amid freezing temperatures. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 afflicted provinces of the country, aimed at allowing relief workers and financial aid to reach the stricken areas. 

"I would like to remind [the general public] that no one should use the roads leading to and within the earthquake zone unless it is compulsory, and telephone calls should not be made except for urgent needs," he said.

A winter storm has compounded the misery by rendering many roads, some of them damaged by the quake, almost impassable, resulting in traffic jams that stretch for kilometres in some regions.

Monday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake and powerful aftershocks cut a swath of destruction that stretched hundreds of kilometres across southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria. 

"It is now a race against time," said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"We have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide essential health care for the injured and most vulnerable," he added.

In Syria, the civil defence group known as the White Helmets, which is more used to searching bombed-out buildings, is spread very thin.

Meanwhile, the logistics and politics of aiding Syria, especially vulnerable areas in the northwest, are much more complicated.

The few available excavators are being shuttled from one town to the next to respond to countless pleas for help. 

Yet people in some of the hardest-hit areas said they felt they had been left to fend for themselves.

But some extraordinary survival tales have emerged, including a newborn baby pulled alive from rubble in Syria, still tied by her umbilical cord to her mother who died in Monday's quake.

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"We heard a voice while we were digging," Khalil al-Suwadi, a relative, said. "We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord [intact] so we cut it and my cousin took her to the hospital."

The infant is the sole survivor of her immediate family, the rest of whom were killed in the rebel-held town of Jindayris.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.

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