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U.S. Geological Survey: 7.8-Magnitude Quake hit early Monday Local Time; More than 2,300 Confirmed Dead with Thousands Injured; Uncertainty over Tenure of Ukraine's Defense Minister; Israeli Raid in Jericho leaves Five Hamas Fighters Dead; China Confirms Second Balloon; Death Toll Soars in Syria and Turkey after Major Earthquake. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired February 06, 2023 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: An urgent appeal for help after a deadly earthquake and scores of aftershocks ravaged Southern Turkey and

neighboring Syria just hours ago and continues. This is a developing story. The U.K. and the Netherlands they're sending search and rescue teams.

Turkey says NATO and EU have offered to help as well.

And we'll go through the offers of help from this region which is substantive. And when I say this region obviously I'm in Abu Dhabi and the

Gulf is very much sprang into action. The White Helmets Rescue Group says aid can't come soon enough to a region already devastated by war and

economic pain. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very difficult test for us. We need help. We need the international community to do something to help us to support us, Northwest

Syria now it's a disaster area we need help from everyone to save our people.


ANDERSON: More than 2300 people have been killed so far, and thousands more are injured in the powerful magnitude 7.8 quake. It's one of the strongest

to hit the region in more than a century. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh shows us more on the initial impact.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A young man trapped desperation in his eyes then in the pre-dawn darkness, a moment of joy.

Rescuers haul him from the wreckage of the building in Southern Turkey. As the morning sun rises, or many others can do is pray.

BIRCAN RIZVAN, DIYARBAKIR RESIDENT: We'll see what happened to those living on the ground floors. May God give us a speedy recovery?

KARADSHEH (voice over): This was a residential building full of families asleep in their homes when the massive earthquake struck just before


IHSAN CETINTAS, DIYARBAKIR RESIDENT: I was sleeping when my wife suddenly woke me up. The quake was very severe, very scary. It took almost two

minutes until the shaking stopped.

KARADSHEH (voice over): We can't yet know how many people could be trapped in a building like this in wrecked homes like this across Turkey and into

neighboring Syria. More buildings brought down a toddler found. The White Helmets have done this before heroes of the Syrian civil war now pulling

people out from under a very different disaster.

So many in rebels held Northern Syria and very little yesterday. People will be left with nothing today. In Turkey too foreign help will be needed.

The government in Ankara has asked its neighbors to come to its aid. The search and rescue will stretch on for days. Hope will remain for as long as

possible. Jomana Karadsheh CNN, Istanbul.


ANDERSON: Well, we're going to hear from Jomana later this hour. For now though Journalist Eyad Kourdi was at his family home when the earthquake

struck. He lives in Gaziantep in Turkey near the epicenter of this quake. His family evacuated and stood in the snow for nearly 30 minutes to wait

for the worst of it to pass. Have a listen to Eyad Kourdi told CNN earlier.


EYAD KOURDI, JOURNALIST: It was so shaky. I was staying in my parents' house. They woke up they were asleep. They start to shout. I tried to shout

to them and stay on the roof under of doors down to the doors. And I was trying to confer like you have to confront them. Or sorry, I was trying to

calm them down telling them please be calm stay under the door.

And that was tangled like it's going to be over soon. It's going to be over soon but I started it will never be over. Our rooftop got broken in my

house like furniture and electronic. And then we - ran out of the building with pajamas and slipper actually.


ANDERSON: Well, that's the initial impact in Turkey and Syria. Rescue efforts like these have been going on for hours through the night into the

day and now into the evening. The Syrian American Medical Society as it is known is working on the frontlines to help the tweeted this.

We are doing everything we can to respond to this earthquake that has hit Syria and Gaziantep and are doing our best to care for the survivors. We

will continue to keep an eye on the situation and provide updates as everything develops.

Well, Dr. Mazen Kewara is the Turkey. He is Country Director at the Syrian American Medical Society and he joins us now by Skype from Gaziantep. Sir

just how dire is the situation on the ground as you understands it?

DR. MAZEN KEWARA, TURKEY COUNTRY DIRECTOR, SYRIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY: Yes, thank you so much. The situation is very dire. I am talking with you

from my car. I am in the car since five in the morning. So it's more than 14 hours. Right now myself and my family, kids we are in the vehicle. The

earthquake was something horrible. It's our first time we experienced such thing and weather conditions is very, very difficult nowadays in Gaziantep.


DR. KEWARA: We are operating in inside the Northwest Syria from Gaziantep office. This is our first time see ourselves directly with the victims. We

are dealing with them since 11 years in Northwest Syria at the same situation.

Previously, we were responding to them and supporting them from our center in Gaziantep from our central office in Gaziantep. But today, we are

victims like them. Directly we experienced them earthquake, horrible earthquake.

But fortunately, we have vehicles. We can stay in our vehicles. But the people inside Northwest Syria 4.5 million people, half of them are IDPs,

coming from different areas because of the 11 year war in Syria. So they experienced that this horrible situation with very, very poor

infrastructure related to everything, the shelter, the healthcare system, the rescue teams, everything is running by the NGOs.

Sam is one of them. White Helmet is one of them, and many other NGOs working in Northwest Syria without that strong government can do things

that the Turkish government can do here for its people, but the people in Northwest Syria right now, with hundreds of this is - Sam's facilities only

received about 180 deaths till now and more than 800 injuries, only one organization received this horrible number of the casualties because of

this horrible earthquake in horrible situation.

ANDERSON: Let me - yes, let me - firstly, I just want to say I'm glad that you and your family are safe. I know it must be harrowing, for the kids.

One can only imagine it. So I'm glad you're safe. And thank you for taking this call with us.

And I want our viewers just to see some of the images that Sam's has sent us. These are a number of hospitals that have been affected. And as I

understand it, and some have been evacuated due to the damage caused by the earthquake. You're talking to people on the ground. What are they telling

you about the sort of pressure that these facilities are under right now? It looks as if they're functioning, how are they functioning?

DR. KEWARA: All ERs are overwhelmed. All ORs also overwhelmed because of that huge number of injuries. So doctors working around the hour. All

hallways are full and we can - one of our referral hospitals main hospitals stopped receiving any casualties because of no capacity.

We stopped to add evacuated to maternity hospitals, frankly, and evacuated the newborns from the incubators because of those facilities and those

hospitals got damaged because of the earthquake. So we are using the maternity hospitals to serve the trauma cases coming from this earthquake

and collapsed building huge number of collapsed buildings in different villages and cities in Northwest Syria because of this earthquake.

So this is the situation. We received mother, date mother, pregnant mother in our Shifa Hospital in Afreen. We unfortunately, she died, but we could

get her newborn alive out of his body. And he's in good health right now. This is what we are doing in this situation.

ANDERSON: Wow! Well, that is an incredible story. The work that you do, clearly so important on a good day, and on a day like today, our viewers

will understand just how important this is. Look, do you have any information on what type of support search and rescue aid might be arriving

getting into Syria, the parts of Syria that are most affected here Idlib, the parts of Syria - you've been talking about?


ANDERSON: And where will it be coming from answer critically, as you understand it, what are the biggest needs at this point? What do you need


DR. KEWARA: For sure, our first needs are the shelter for those people who are already in temporary shelters, and right now they lost those shelters.

When we treat any casualty we couldn't send it to any safety space, or any safe area because of there is no shelter for them.

We need also support in medical supplies and the international community, the humanitarian community knows exactly in the trauma cases, we keep lack

the IV fluids, medicines, antibiotics, painkillers, medical consumables using in the operation rooms and in the emergency rooms.

Those are all we are consuming from what we have and everything we have could be consumed within hours or days. So this is what we need right now.

Unfortunately, I'm very - let me say and be frank. I'm very concerned for Northwest Syria, maybe the earthquake and that it started here in Turkey in

this state which usually Turkey is supporting Northwest Syria.

Right now, the international community comes to support Turkey. I'm asking I'm calling the international community to support Turkey very well. But

don't forget Northwest Syria, and those people in this small area, which they are in the - situation in this planet.

ANDERSON: Look, I'm pretty sure that you are not going to want to spend too much time talking about your own family because I know that you are safe.

But I have to ask. Well, you've got four kids. You've been in the car since this morning.

I know you're working hard to ensure that those that need most in Northwest Syria are being looked after and you're appealing for support through the

show that you're on now. I just have to ask, how are you? How's the family? How did they cope when you felt this overnight?

DR. KEWARA: Yes, yes. It was very difficult and tough experience for them. I don't know they are in the car after the horrific - woke up in the night.

Then within - we waited for about three minutes to get this earthquake - we maybe get a bit calm. Then we went out the building.

And since then, since 5 am our time and we are right now 19 pm. We are in the vehicles and doing everything from the vehicle. But thanks that we are

safe. And we have vehicles to stay in. We are warm. But I know there are people in Northwest Syria right now. They don't have that car. They don't

have those vehicles to stay as they are dying in silence.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Mazen! We're going to let you go so that you can carry on with the work that you are doing. Thank you. We are going to do our best

as well. Thank you. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Turkey. She joins us live from Istanbul.

Turkey, no stranger to earthquakes as we've just been discussing it's on a major fault line. We know this is a bad one. And we've just been talking

about Turkey's neighbor's not least Northwest Syria, where as we understand it, things are really bad. Jomana what are you hearing?

KARADSHEH: I mean things are really bad as you heard there from your guest absolutely heartbreaking, heart wrenching situation in Syria. I mean, we've

been hearing from the United Nations and aid agencies Becky they don't even know the real extent of the damage and the devastation in much of

Northwestern Syria because of power cuts because of issues with communications.

And they're very concerned about the more than 4 million people in Northwestern Syria majority of them women and children many have been

displaced so many times.


KARADSHEH: And you know the best of times they are in need of aid. They are reliant on international aid that has really slowed down in the past few

years in recent months. I mean, aid agencies have been appealing to the international community long before this earthquake to help the displaced

people in Northwestern Syria.

The vulnerable population there, as it was facing this harsh, harsh winter and now you have this on top of that. And then if we look at the situation

in Turkey, Becky, this is a country as you mentioned, no stranger to earthquakes. It is a very well equipped country.

It has known how? It has the manpower to deal with natural disasters, as we have seen over the years. But from the early hours after that 7.8 magnitude

earthquake struck we heard Turkish officials declare that this is a level four emergency meaning that they needed the support from the international


And they triggered these requests to NATO to EU and countries, of course rushing to provide support. The Turkish authorities search and rescue teams

deployed from across the country, the Turkish military on the ground.

But one of the biggest challenges they're facing Becky is the fact that this is such a massive earthquake zone. 10 provinces, millions of people

living in this earthquake hit areas across Southern Turkey making it very, very challenging operation for them. And then you've got the weather

conditions right now, the snow, freezing temperatures tonight, making it very difficult for them to reach a lot of these areas with reports of roads

being blocked, as well.

And so right now, Turkish authorities are scrambling to set up shelter, it is nighttime now of course this is going to impact the ongoing search and

rescue operation. We know that thousands of buildings have been damaged, destroyed many buildings just flattened by this powerful earthquake that

hit while people were sleeping.

They were indoors in their homes sleeping so you can expect that there's going to be a large number of people potentially trapped under the rubble.

President Erdogan saying they don't really know how many so of course, very, very challenging situation on so many levels.

And of course, this the weather conditions just making this absolutely horrific and miserable for the millions across that devastated region this

evening, as they are left outdoors. No shelters as they're trying to set up all these shelters. I mean, as you heard from your guest there, and I've

heard from colleagues also, in Gaziantep, people really don't know where to go right now.

If they don't have a car, there's really no safe place because of course, the concern of these major aftershocks more than hundred aftershocks

reported by Turkish authorities you know, the concern is of course, that you will see more and more buildings collapse as a result. So they're

asking people to stay outdoors stay away from structures as they set up more and more shelters for the hundreds of thousands if not millions who

will need those shelters.

ANDERSON: Yes. And you're right to point out that the numbers that we - as we have them at the moment, sadly, are likely to be redundant in the hours

to come. It is a high likelihood that these numbers are going to get significantly worse both on those injured and those who have sadly lost

their lives.

Before I let you go these disasters, of course and we get too many of them. But what they do often is transcend politics Jomana earthquake diplomacy,

one might call it and I'm coming from Israel, for example, aid to Turkey.

We haven't heard whether there's any aid for sure from the Israelis to the Syrians? But we wait to see it. And I have a formal relationship of course

with Syria, Qatar, Jordan, the UAE and we've spoken with them they are sending aid into and supporting to both countries.

Greece has offered support to Turkey. Let's just discuss where what we know about where this aid is coming from? And the off times dumping of sort of

political baggage that comes with events and efforts like these?

KARADSHEH: Well, you know, we've seen this over the years Becky when there are these sort of natural disasters as you rightly describe it this

earthquake diplomacy. You know, countries with disputes foes they put their differences aside to try and support each other especially when you're

talking about neighboring countries no matter what relations or like as you mentioned, Greece and others coming to the support of Turkey.


KARADSHEH: Turkey itself has done that many, many times over the years offering assistance and support to countries in this neighborhood and

beyond no matter what relations are like, I think there's everyone recognizes that at a time like this, all the support and aid is necessary.

And it's not just about governments; you're talking about so many people who are in dire need of aid, humanitarian assistance, medical attention and

care. And so you are seeing Turkey requesting that support and you are seeing countries already responding.

You've got countries in the Gulf Qatar and Kuwait, announcing that they are establishing an air bridge for humanitarian aid for medical supplies for

personnel to try and help setting up field hospitals sending in search, search equipment that will be needed.

And then, of course, we've heard from NATO as well, saying that it has received the request from Turkey, a key NATO member also requesting, you

know, a long list of assistance that it is going to need in dealing with this situation. I mean, Becky, this is a country that has the capabilities;

it can deal with natural disasters.

But this is the worst disaster according to the Turkish president in a century describing as the biggest disaster his country has experienced

since the 1939 earthquake. So they're going to need all the support and assistance they can get from the international community right now.

ANDERSON: Yes, as will Syria. Thank you, Jomana. Among those helping in the search for survivors in Syria, the White Helmets, one of the group's

volunteers joining me now, live just out. We'll take a short break before we do that and we'll come back with that interview. Do stay with us please.


ANDERSON: Personnel turmoil in a time of war Ukraine is sending mixed messages about the tenure of its defense minister as it braces for a new

Russian offensive on Sunday. A top ally of Ukraine's president said Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced, but a day later he appeared to dial back his

remarks saying no change is expected this week.

Defense Minister has been under pressure for several weeks related to corruption scandals inside his department. Reznikov is denying any




OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: The decision of who is to be Minister or not is made by one person, the Supreme Commander in Chief

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I am not ashamed of anything. My conscience is absolutely clear. I have nothing to accept. I am a winner and

I will remain so.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Kyiv. Let's start with this story. Reznikov's position within the administration it

does seem unclear at this point, what do we know about him? And about what is going on behind the scenes at this point?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Becky, I think you're absolutely right. It certainly seems absolutely

unclear what the future for Oleksii Reznikov holds in that administration, whether he's going to get moved somewhere else, whether he'll stay in the

Defense Ministry, whether he might get replaced altogether. It really is unclear.

But we've been sort of following the story over the past couple of days and some of the talks that have been going on. And some of the people within

Volodymyr Zelenskyy's own party, the servant of the People's Party have said that yes, he is going to be replaced.

Then said he might be moved to somewhere else to the Ministry of strategic industries also said that he might be replaced with the current Head of

Military Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov, that that could be the next defense minister.

Certainly, those are discussions that apparently have been going on and a lot of talk that's been, you know, fairly public going on here in Kyiv,

among people who are close to the Zelenskyy administration. So, it is absolutely unclear.

But of course, it also comes at a very important time for Ukraine, where especially the defense ministry is one that obviously needs to be

functioning at an extremely high level. They're integrating a lot of new weapons systems right now into their ministry into their military, new

weapon systems from the west others as well.

So certainly, an important time and you know, Oleksii Reznikov, we just saw that sound bite from him where he said that he believes he's a winner. He

thinks that there's no wrongdoing on his part. But he did also say that, of course, there were inefficiencies in the ministry, there were issues there

was an internal audit.

Of course, we also have to keep in mind, Becky, that the Deputy Defense Minister, that he did step down because of alleged corruption because there

were problems, especially with the procurement of food for the troops that apparently wait too high prices were paid for that bulletproof vests as


So certainly, there isn't acknowledgement on the part of Reznikov, that there had been issues within the Ukrainian military that of course, right

now that Ukrainian military needs to be functioning in a very efficient way in a very transparent way. But he also says that he believes that he's

someone who can solve those problems.

But again, we heard at the end there that he said that, in the end, it's up to the Ukrainian president to decide. So, I think in all of this, you can

really see that Reznikov himself is sort of taking things as they come. He believes that he's fit for the job.

But he also says that if the president doesn't want him there any longer of Volodymyr Zelenskyy that then he of course will go and go to another role

go somewhere else or completely leave the administration, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is on the story out of Kyiv in Ukraine where the time is 6.27. It is 8.27 here in the UAE. I'm in Abu Dhabi. It's a race

against time in Turkey and in Syria to save people trapped in rubble after what have been a devastating initial earthquake further shocks and a

further shock big enough to be described as another earthquake.

A volunteer helping in the rescues joins me next. Plus after a diplomatic uproar with the United States, China is admitting a second observation

balloons, thus this one over Latin America.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World". Right now, people in southern Turkey and across the border in Syria are hoping that

more survivors are found after what was a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the initial earthquake. At this point the death toll stands at more than

2300 people.

And I'm afraid those numbers will go higher. Rescue crews working tirelessly to find more people alive in the rubble of buildings like this

one for example in Turkey, and it is similar if not worse story in Syria emergency workers. They're sifting through rubble hoping to find anyone

still alive.

Well, a rare Israeli military raid into the West Bank city of Jericho has left at least five Palestinians dead. Hamas says all five who were killed

were fighters for the group. Israel's military said it was targeting militants who recently tried to carry out a shooting attack on a restaurant

near an Israeli settlement.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem with more on this story. Jericho, rarely targeted by Israeli military, certainly not by Israeli military

raids what happened?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Jericho is not normally known as a hotspot of military activity, or that Hamas would even have much

of a presence there. It's better known as the oldest, longest inhabited city. It's a tourist destination. Tourists go there all the time.

And it's also better known as a place where wealthy Palestinians have vacation home. So, it's really not known, I mean, I can't even recall in

the last two decades of a similar situation happening in Jericho. The Israeli military said that they went in overnight to try to apprehend two

members of what they said were a part of a Hamas terror cell that they said carried out this attempted attack on a restaurant that attempted attack

took place about a week ago.

But what happened according to the Israeli military, and according to surveillance video, is these two guys tried to go up to the restaurants

tried to start shooting, but their gun jammed and then they got in and fled. He's really military saying some 30 people were in the restaurant at

the time.

And since that day, the Israeli military has been setting up checkpoints and has been really at Jericho for the past week trying to go after these

guys. And they say that last night they undertook this raid. And as you noted, the Palestinians are saying that five Palestinians were killed in

this raid.

Several of them are actually related. At least two of them are brothers and Hamas did put out a statement saying that all of them were their resistance

fighters. We just go see it that map how far towards Jordan Jericho is it's really far from what we've been normally talking about these hotspots of

Jenin, of Nablus of where these sorts of raids usually take place.

And I think that goes to show you and it really helps illustrate the situation that this region is in right now. We've been talking about the

really rising levels of violence and tension. We've seen attacks we've seen these regular Israeli military rates and to see Hamas claiming fighters in

Jericho to see the sort of Israeli military rate in Jericho.

I mean, like I said, I can't remember the last time Jericho had anything close to this. And I think that really shows illustrates this very

dangerous situation this region is in right now. Becky.

ANDERSON: Is a dangerous situation that Antony Blinken only last week, the U.S. Secretary of State was calling to calm calling on both sides for calm

to avoid what a number of people that we've spoken to suggest could be utter chaos.

I mean, this has been a more deadly start to the year than you and I can remember, we've seen last year a year which of conflict and death that we

hadn't seen in years. Just how concerned are those that you are speaking to on the ground on both sides about this ratcheting off of violence at this



GOLD: Yes. And when you just really look at what's happening also politically on both the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, there really

doesn't seem to be any space there for any sort of talk's negotiations. Although we do know that senior State Department staffers, very senior

State Department staffers have stayed on to try to continue the talk continue negotiations.

We know that Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders were in Cairo trying to continue the conversation. So, there are diplomatic efforts underway. But

from the statements we've seen from the Palestinian authority and from the Israelis in the last few days also in reaction to the situation in Jericho,

it doesn't seem as though they've made really any sort of progress to come together.

And look at the calendar Becky, because what we're going to have in the coming month that's what's really concerning people here because we have

Ramadan and Passover overlapping once again, all eyes will be here on Jerusalem to see whether tensions really erupt into clashes potentially in

the Old City around then, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Hadas. Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem for you. All right now people in southern Turkey and across the border in Syria are hoping

against hope that more survivors are found after what was a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. We were reporting with Hadas earlier, it was felt

where she is in Israel.

Well, our next guest is a volunteer with the White Helmets, Ismail Alabdullah. That group of course has been working to save lives in Syria

for almost a decade working now basically, to try and avoid further death just begin for us if you will sir. And thank you for joining us. By

describing the situation on the ground where you are, explain where you are, and what is going on?

ISMAIL ALABDULLAH, VOLUNTEER, WHITE HELMETS: Hello, everyone, thank you for giving the chance to talk. First thing, the - killed more than 450 people

and injured more than one thousand and hundred thousands of people up to now they are under the rubble in each city in each village in each town in

Northwest here, there are buildings and buildings collapsed by the earthquake.

Our teams are working on the clock to around the clock to help to save the ancient people. But our capabilities, our powers are not enough to handle

this disaster. This disaster is bigger than any organization in northwest Syria.

This disaster need international efforts to handle asking here for help for everyone for every country that can support us from any - the work by the

accurate that we need the heavy equipment, medical supplies, consumable medical supplies, everything that we need just to save our people and save

those who are in need right now.

And they are untraveled on the rubble. The winter made the situation worse for the people that winter are here in northwest Syria, it's very hard for

them. They are - the Syrian suffers in every day, they lay off the basic necessities. They need warm.

And most of them were displaced from other parts of Syria during the last 12 years of bombing and killing. Now, what we asked in here just to help us

and support us, so we can achieve this mission to helping our people to save our people from under the rubble.

ANDERSON: I'm just looking at a tweet from the IRC, the International Rescue Group, which I know works with you closely at times, many in

northwest Syria have been displaced up to 20 times and with health facilities strained beyond capacity even before this tragedy. Many did not

have access to the health care.

They critically need not just to their healthcare, of course to any services that anybody would sort of expect in the year of 2023. So, you've

been tweeting some remarkable stories of individuals being rescued one in particular, of a man his wife and child found alive from under the rubble

in the City of Sarmada where you are which is just north of Idlib. Just tell us about some of those, some of these rescues that you've been part of

you have witnessed.

ALABDULLAH: Yes, today we rescued many, many civilians from under the rubble. This so called, we rescued them just a few minutes ago before the

rescue operation.


ALABDULLAH: We thought that we would not find we will not find any civilian alive. But after work and hearing the sound or hearing the voice calling

for help doing and working, we were able, and you know, it was miracle for us that we after hours under the rubble. And so we could, we were able to

solve, to sell to save those who were trapped.

And we, we hope that we can all, we hope we can save all the people from under rubble, that they are now that they are now trapped and struggling

their breath in every minute.

ANDERSON: We've been talking to other groups on the ground who has been explaining as you have the enormous needs for the people of northwest

Syria, we are clearly seeing massive appeals for support from Turkey. This is a country that often sent its own support to others.

So, there's clearly you know, this is clearly a terrible situation. But we want to emphasize just how important this part of northwest Syria is and

how important it is to get aid and medical support there. And I want to draw our viewers' attention to this tweet from the organization sent out

this morning; daylight reveals the full magnitude of the disaster in northwest Syria.

After the earthquake that struck at dawn today, our teams are on full alert to respond to those trapped and injured under the rubble. At that point,

you didn't know the full extent of the damage that had been done.


ANDERSON: When it did begin to dawn, you clearly realize this was of catastrophic proportions, correct?

ALABDULLAH: Yes, that's exactly what happened. That is exactly what happened to all of us. At the beginning, we thought that we have just some

sights here and there, we can handle it. But after the morning, listening to the reports from all the cities and villages across northwest Syria, we

were shocked by the scale, larger scale of damage and the big number of destroyed buildings.

So in that time, we started to think how we can handle it, we started to think how we can move on, move on and in risk, we've been conducting a

search and rescue operation.

ANDERSON: So, let's just be clear. Where is the aid coming from as you understand it now? What's needed most on the ground? And how quickly is

that aid --?

ALABDULLAH: What we need most right now, what we need most right now is, for us, as a human as rescue workers, we need heavy equipment that help us

in removing the mountain of rubbles that now are on the heads of the fairies. We need medical supplies for those who we saved them from under

the rubble, all of that this is the urgent, the urgent needs for us.

We hope that the states that support us and believe in the human values and human rights support us in this tough situation that we are not able to

handle. We don't want to see that people stay under the rubble for weeks or days. We need immediate response from everyone.

So, can we help and end this disaster before any other disaster happened? We don't want to see people dying more we don't see any other catastrophic


ANDERSON: Yes, and you'll be aware that there have been numerous aftershocks you will have felt those aftershocks yourself. So, this is you

know, these are - this is a devastation coming on top of the initial devastation which is really terrifying. Thank you very much indeed for

joining us today.

We let you get on with the work and communicating the work that you are doing and that needs to be done in Syria. Coming up, China confirms it owns

another giant balloon that was spotted over Latin America after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the weekend. We're going to

unpack all of that after this short break.



ANDERSON: Today for the first time, Beijing is admitting that balloons spotted in the skies over Latin America late last week does in fact belong

to China. Here's how the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson responded to CNN's Selina Wang when she asked, she was asked about the balloon during a

press briefing.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon says another surveillance balloon from China has been spotted over Latin America. And the U.S. says

there were three instances during the Trump Administration of China flying surveillance balloons over the U.S. What's the purpose of these balloons

from China?

MAO NING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: After verification the balloon over Latin America the unmanned air shipping question came from

China and was of a civilian nature use for flight tests. Due to the weather and the limited control ability the airship has, the airship seriously

deviated from his intended route and enters the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean by mistake.


ANDERSON: Over the weekend, the U.S. military shot down another Chinese balloon off the U.S. East Coast after it drifted across the country. The

U.S. says it was a spy balloon. Chinese explanation for that balloon almost identical to what you just heard.

Oren Liebermann is tracking developments for us from the Pentagon. He joins us now. This balloon story refuses to pop, excuse the pun a second now over

Latin America. What's going on here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pentagon said over the weekend in a briefing that this was a fleet of surveillance balloons.

Now China hasn't responded to specifically to that level of accusation. But China's sticking to the explanation we've now heard for the balloon that

was shot down by the U.S. just a couple of days ago at this point saying this was a weather balloon, a civilian balloon that had drifted off.

Of course, they only, they say they only had limited controllability over it. And that's one of the reasons why it ended up over Central America.

We've heard from two countries there or rather Latin America. We've heard from the Colombian Air Force as well as the Costa Rican Civil Aviation

Authority, saying yes, they spotted the balloon.

However, they didn't specifically blame China for that balloon, saying only generically that they had witnessed or notified the balloon. We don't have

a specific location on it right now, whether it's still overland or whether it's drifted over the Gulf of Mexico or drifted to over another country.

And we don't have frankly, the same number of people looking for this balloon in the sky there. So, we don't have as accurate a depiction of

where the balloon currently is. But we know China acknowledging the balloon at least is theirs even if they're sticking to the explanation, an

explanation the Pentagon and the U.S. government outright rejected that this was a civilian balloon that had simply drifted off course, Becky.

ANDERSON: The GOP has accused Biden of a weak response to this. So just explain for our viewers what their gripes are here?


LIEBERMANN: There are a number of different criticisms with the Biden Administration that we're hearing from the Republican Party. And perhaps

that's not surprising, but it's first about the lack of transparency, second about not shooting it down whether it was before it entered the

continental United States or even over the continental United States. Here's a sampling of what we heard over the last couple of days.

ANDERSON: Oren Liebermann is on the story, he is at the Pentagon. It's always a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed. And we will be back with

more after this short break.


ANDERSON: Returning to our top story now. A desperate search for people trapped in the rubble after a devastating earthquake in Turkey and in Syria

followed by scores of aftershocks. A CNN producer on the ground in Gaza and in Turkey says the aftershocks felt like Armageddon his words.

Well, the death toll is now rising tragic proportions soaring past 2300 this all happened only hours ago in a region already scarred by war and a

refugee crisis. Well, to make matters even worse, rescue efforts are likely going to be slowed by what is harsh weather in the region.

Meteorologist Chad Meyer standing by for us at CNN Center in Atlanta two things going on here that I want us to address. One is the forecast. But

before we do that, let's just have a look at the map of these aftershocks because we are having them described as big as the initial earthquake. Just

explain what's going on in.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, there was a magnitude 7.8 that was our first one. And then about six hours after that there was a 7.5 which is

a violent quake in itself. And then the buildings are fragile at best that people will not be in these buildings tonight. They will not be living in

their apartments for fear of another aftershock bringing it down in the first place when they see all these cracks in the walls.

Taking all the way from the sea all the way back up here almost 250 kilometers where the aftershocks are. Now why is that? It's because we

think about an earthquake as a point. And we call it the epicenter or the focus where the earthquake actually happened.

But big earthquakes are not a point, big earthquakes stretch, crack and fracture the crust in a long line. This line is almost 200 kilometers long,

there was very intense shaking in this red zone the entire time as that crack happened, think about it just keeps going and going and going.

And that's how you get such a large and violent earthquake. And where was that? Right here along the fault between the Arabian plate and the

Anatolian plate. The damage happened to because of the slip the acceleration of land. Buildings don't accelerate; their basement and their

foundation will accelerate. But then the top is up over here going hey, what am I doing?

And either it went like this or it tried to keep up and when it got to here, it just kept going. That's why there are so many buildings that are

literally flattened by this and the problem is it was four o'clock in the morning. People were in those buildings, cold air coming in temperature is

the highs, probably around four to six degrees.


MYERS: But morning low temperatures will be way below zero, way below freezing because of this next batch of cold air that's coming in cold front

running on by right now. There will even be some snow in the upper elevations that 7.5, their aftershock actually happened in the mountains,

almost 600 meters higher in elevation than the original quake.

And it didn't do quite as much length damage; it did damage all around one epicenter. And that's you know that that earthquake actually went up

somewhere the earthquake the original just went across, just went side to side. So that's the reason why the damage is here from the 7.8, the way it

formed, the way it stretched and the way it fractured the land all the way from here.

You will be able to look at the surface and see that fault at to see the break in the dirt. And I've even seen some breaks in asphalt, breaks in

airfields where the fault itself is all the way to the surface, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir. That's it for us today. From "Connect the World" at least, I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. But of course, CNN's coverage of

the devastating earthquake across Turkey and Syria will continue on CNN and we'll get updates for you right after this short break. Do stay with us.