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Over 11,000 Dead And Survivors Pulled From Rubble Of Turkiye-Syria Earthquake; Syrian Regime Calls For U.S. And E.U. To Remove Sanctions; U.S. President Joe Biden Touts Economic And Legislative Accomplishments In State Of The Union Address; Chinese Balloon Debris Recovered By U.S. Navy On Its Way To FBI Laboratory. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 08, 2023 - 10:00   ET




CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christina Macfarlane in London. Welcome to a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Anger is now joining grief in the ruins of southern Turkiye and neighboring Syria. There are growing questions from survivors of Monday's devastating

earthquake. They want to know where is the government.

Just hours ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on the ground near the quake's epicenter to see the disaster for himself. He admits the

government's response has had some problems, his words. At the same time, donations of international aid are growing.

So too, is the death toll, ballooning to a tragic tally of more than 11,000 people killed. Rescuers are overwhelmed. But they haven't given up trying

to find anyone still alive under the heaps of rubble, even as the bitter cold begins to bite.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is near the epicenter and sent us this report. A warning: his report contains some graphic images.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): You can still almost feel the enormity of the tremors here. This is Kahramanmaras, closest to the epicenter. One older neighborhood shredded,

its family warmth huddling on the street.

Dubcek's (ph) father is trapped under the rubble here; only his feet protrude. They can't get him out but can cover his toes.

"It would be really nice," he says, if the government had come by."

Turan (ph) retrieved his 8-year-old daughter, wife and daughter-in-law. Pray you never stand over so much of your life. Their final dignity from a


Push down and there are glimmers of hope. These rescuers have spotted a 12- year-old, Mustafa (ph), in the rubble and have to dig down to him. Further along, Ali (ph) helped them find his 65-year-old mother.

"She's in her bed down there," he says, "we'll get her out soon."

There is not much sign of government here, perhaps as the scale of this is all too massive.

Dusk makes the dust and the immense bulk of the mess harder still, the cold just an insult in the days of emptiness that lie ahead. And the news from

the rubble is as often as bad as it is good. A body found here, carried out and laid next to this man's 9-year-old daughter, Beren (ph).

The black here hiding the intimate agonies buried in it, the stories with the wrong ending. But suddenly, there is a call for quiet, hush. They think

they hear a voice. A pause and then the best noise, joy.

Rescuers think they might have found six people alive but there are hours more ahead of checking. But nothing really goes to plan here. Even the joy

seemed random. Where Ali's (ph) mother is being rescued, two young people are unexpectedly found and pulled out; a 16-year-old girl, apparently still


WALSH: Extraordinary moment of joy, a kind of thing that really all of Turkiye is desperately hoping and waiting for. But as the temperatures drop

and time goes by, they will become harder to come by. But extraordinary to see somebody pulled, hopefully, straight out of this building.

WALSH (voice-over): Abdullah (ph) seems unscathed, almost untouched by the tremors that altered everything else he emerges into -- Nick Paton Walsh,

CNN, Kahramanmaras, Turkey.


MACFARLANE: We are seeing so many tragic images from Turkiye and Syria. Also scenes of hope and inspiration.



MACFARLANE (voice-over): This is a video of a young girl, Maryam (ph), comforting her brother, Elav (ph). You can see how she touches his forehead

and tries to keep the toddler calm. They're waiting to be rescued from under the rubble of their house in a small village in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

MACFARLANE (voice-over): During the rescue, she's told to stay strong and not to cry. Finally, the children are seen getting carried to safety to

shouts of relief.

The girl and her little brother are well now. Her father said the quake hit in the middle of the night. They prayed out loud. Their neighbors heard

them and that is how they were rescued.


MACFARLANE: Before this disaster, the United Nations estimates that nearly 70 percent of Syria's population was already in desperate need of

humanitarian assistance after more than a decade of war.

Now the earthquake disrupted the organization's only aid route into the country. My next guest is the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for

Syria. He's appealing for aid from all partners, saying this tragedy will have a devastating impact on many already vulnerable families, who struggle

to provide for their loved ones on a daily basis.

Muhammad Hadi joins us now live from Amman, Jordan.

Thank you so much for your time. It is vitally important to continue, for aid groups, rescue and search teams to reach people before 72 hours.

Can you give us an update on the situation on the ground where you are, how many people are being rescued?

MUHAMMAD HADI, OCHA REGIONAL HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR: Thank you very much and thank you for giving me this opportunity to be on CNN. As you said,

this country has already been suffering from the devastation of the war.

More than 90 percent of the people are below the poverty line. There are more than 4 million people in northwest Syria alone who are dependent on

humanitarian assistance. And now to have those crises, this earthquake, on top of the crisis, it's like the perfect storm that nobody ever wished for.

We're seeing images now on CNN other media outlets of women and children going through difficult times. We in the U.N. and our partners and the NGOs

and the international NGOs and the local Syrian NGOs and the White Helmets were all trying our best to reach the people.

Now it's a stage where we're looking for search and rescue. Everybody is trying as much as they can. After that definitely the medical assistance is

required. Shelter, food, water, protection, all of those need a lot of work, need a lot of cooperation between everybody.

But on top of this, we need the financial support. We need the support of the international community to comfort those people and to save as much

lives as we can.

MACFARLANE: You heard me perhaps saying just now that we are aware that the aid routes into Syria have been damaged by the earthquake, at least

that one route that crossed through the Turkish border.

What is the status of the aid corridor now?

How much aid have you've been able to get into the country?

HADI: Unfortunately, since the beginning of the day of the earthquake, where the road was partially damaged and became inaccessible, we were not

able to move any convoys. But today, this afternoon, our logistics cluster and our partners confirmed to us that the road is accessible.

We hopefully will be able to move something tomorrow. We still have to see how we can move the trucks from within Syria to meet us at the Turkish

border. We have a glimpse of hope that tomorrow we will resume our cross border activities to reach the people. We have our trucks loaded.

We have our teams ready on the ground, waiting just to make sure that we have all systems go, to go and to reach the people. In addition of that,

we're trying also to increase the cross line activities because it's important for us to have all modalities to reach the people -- cross line,

cross border, any means of access given to us.

We want to take advantage of this. We are fighting against time. The 24-48 hours are very critical for the people --



HADI: -- saving right now.

MACFARLANE: -- what do you mean by cross lines exactly?

HADI: Cross line is having aid come from the government controlled area to the northwest of Syria. So because we have more than -- we have the cross

line, as I, said when we have the cross border from Turkiye. We want to make sure that we can reach people from all directions.

MACFARLANE: Yes and I want to ask you about the Syrian government because we know they are calling on the E.U. and the U.S. to lift sanctions so more

aid can be brought into the country. But the U.S. says the sanctions do not stand in the way of humanitarian aid reaching the country.


MACFARLANE: Is that what you are saying?

Is this the case, that the sanctions need to be lifted?

HADI: We have been working with all member states. We always wanted to make sure that sanctions does not affect the humanitarian work. That's not

only the case in Syria, that's everywhere.

We're always in engagement with all member states, putting the interest of the people first, making sure that politics, that sanctions, that

bureaucracy does not put any obstacles in our way to reach the women and the children who are in need.

And this is a very critical time for us. We're trying to defuse all the obstacles in front of us. So we're working with everybody to make sure that

people are reached and we're hoping in the interest of the people is put first.

MACFARLANE: Are you in touch though with Damascus?

With the government?

And are you certain that they are enabling aid to get through to the north, where it's needed?

HADI: We have our colleagues and our counterparts, the humanitarian coordinator in Damascus, who is in close contact, direct contact probably

on a daily basis if not an hourly basis actually.

Coordinating with the government to try to give us access. As I, said from the government controlled area to the northwest. Rest assured that we are

trying our best to reach people from everywhere.

But I also want to say that such operation needs a lot of support, political support, also financial support. This is an operation that was

not properly funded. We only received 50 percent of the funding last year. We're hope -- and now we're beginning of the year, we're also facing

shortages as the winter started and now with this earthquake, we're urging all member states, donors to come up with the financial resources that we

need to meet the needs of the people.

MACFARLANE: Yes, and there are other concerns as we know, with the cold, with freezing temperatures.

As this moves from a rescue to a recovery operation, which surely it will do in the days to come, what are going to be your most urgent needs?

HADI: As I said in this situation, now everybody is focusing on search and rescue. After, that of course, it's -- immediately, it's the medical

assistant needed, shelter, blankets, food, water, protection.

All of this assistance, it comes one after the other. And definitely with the cold weather, it's not making it any easier for the victims of this

earthquake. People there, especially the northwest, have been displaced more than once.

There are people who have been living in tents and those who have been living in the buildings that collapsed. I mean, they're going to become

displaced another time. This is really a sad story.

MACFARLANE: Yes, international aid badly needed and still not yet able to get through from what you are telling me. We will have to leave it there.

Thank you, sir, so much, for joining us and we will, of course, keep in touch as you continue your rescue efforts.

HADI: Thank you very much.

MACFARLANE: Let's move to one of those areas, where rescue efforts are continuing. Our Jomana Karadsheh joining us live now from Adana in Turkiye,

where as we've been saying, Jomana, time is beginning to run out. I know you have been at the site of a rescue operation tell. Us what you're


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are here in the city of Adana, right at the site of one of the search and rescue operations that

has been ongoing now for more than 60 hours, as the search and rescue teams are trying to dig through the rubble.

This building used to be a 14-story residential building. People in the area are telling they believe that about 100 people were living in this

building. But they still don't know how many people were in that building at the time of the earthquake.

The search and rescue effort has been going on night and day. And so far, unfortunately, they have been unable to pull out anyone alive. We just

heard from one man in this neighborhood saying that, in the early hours, they did manage to pull someone out.

But he died on the way to the hospital. Since then, they have been pulling body after body; by the count of officials here on the scene and people, at

least 13 people, bodies have been pulled out from the building.

In the past hour, Christina, there was this call for quiet, as they believe that they could hear something. There were possible signs of life that they

were looking for. They asked everyone to be quiet.

And you had this delicate mission going on for nearly an hour. But then a fight broke out. You've got hundreds of people who are camped out here in

these shelters, these tents that have been set up for people in this area.


KARADSHEH: You've got hundreds of people, including many who are searching for their loved ones, their relatives, who they believe are trapped inside

this building. And you can imagine this, is a very emotional time, this is a nerve-racking way for so many people. Tempers are flaring, people are

just on edge and understandably so.

But this fight broke out. And we don't know what happened, if that disrupted that hour-long, almost, effort that was going on to try and

locate, possibly locate survivors in there or if they just didn't find anyone in there.

This is what we have seen over the past nearly eight hours since we've been here. They have had few of these moments, where they thought that they had

located survivors. They've asked for quiet; they start searching, then they go back to digging and trying to see what they can find.

Christina, it's just unimaginable heartbreaking situation here. You've got people who have been sitting here for the past couple of days, just waiting

for any news about their loved ones and their family members who are inside.

One man just broke down. He was wailing, he was crying, looking for his son, saying, why can't they just find him?

Why can't they get him out?

And then we spoke to these -- to this woman who said that she's looking for her cousin, a couple and their 14-year-old daughter who were in the

building. And no news so far. But she says she is holding on to the hope that they might still be alive.

But as time goes by, we're hearing other people starting to give up hope. These two sisters we spoke to also searching for their cousins saying,

right now, they've gone from hoping that they could find their cousin, who -- they've gone to morgues and hospitals and camped out here in the bitter

cold, waiting to see if they can find this cousin.

Right now, they say, they're just hoping that this team can at least pull a body in one piece. It's a very grim situation and a very emotional,

heartbreaking situation for so many.

And those people who have been camped out here, Christina, they just don't know what's going to happen to them. They can't go back to their homes.

Their homes have been destroyed. Others are too scared to go back home. So they're sitting out here in the tents.

You've got food stations set up, medical stations set up. But they just don't know what they're going to do next.

You walk around and talk to people. You can just see that people appear -- like they are still traumatized. We spoke to an elderly couple earlier, who

said that they can't stand up. The aftershocks have stopped here. But they still feel that, every time they stand up, that the ground is shaking.

And you just see the fear, the trauma, the -- I mean, the shock that people are in. It's just unimaginable. And Christina, this is just one building in

one of the 10 provinces. And you've got thousands of buildings like this that have been destroyed across this massive earthquake zone.

MACFARLANE: Jomana, it is grim, it is distressing and really hard to fathom the psychological trauma they must be going through. Jomana

Karadsheh there, live for us from Adana. Thanks for now.



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The United Kingdom is marching with us toward the most -- I think the most important victory of our


MACFARLANE (voice-over): A surprise visit: Ukraine's president comes to London with a simple message. Give us the weapons, we will win this fight.


MACFARLANE (voice-over): And the State of the Union is strong. U.S. President Joe Biden gives his assessment of the nation to cheers and some

loud boos from Congress.





MACFARLANE: Welcome back. A quick look at our top story.

The death toll from Monday's devastating earthquake that struck Turkiye and Syria has climbed to more than 11,000. Some 125 aftershocks have rattled

Turkiye. And more than 5,700 buildings have collapsed.

Crews are racing against time to find survivors beneath the rubble. Cold weather is making the rescue efforts even more difficult. Earlier

Wednesday, Turkiye's president visited an emergency relief area near the epicenter of the powerful quake. He said the goal is to rebuild the city

within a year.

Further south, a story of hope intermingled with overwhelming sadness. A warning, some viewers may find this distressing.

A newborn baby girl was pulled out of the rubble in northwestern Syria, her umbilical cold was still attached to her mother, who was found dead. The

baby is now living in an incubator at a hospital in Afrin.

The infant is the sole survivor of her immediate family. The rest of them were killed when the earthquake flattened the family home in a nearby

rebel-held town.



MACFARLANE: Ukraine's president is taking his appeal for more weapons directly to the source. Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to

London, only his second trip outside his country since the Russian invasion a year ago.

A short time ago, he met with U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak and addressed Parliament. Mr. Zelenskyy thanked the British people and Parliament for

their courage and made the case that long-range weapons will allow his nation to push back the Russian invaders.


ZELENSKYY: We know freedom will win.


ZELENSKYY: We know. We know Russia will lose.


MACFARLANE: After speaking to Parliament, Mr. Zelenskyy went to Buckingham Palace to meet King Charles III. The president indicated he would tell the

monarch, who was himself an air force pilot, that today, in Ukraine, every air force pilot is treated like a king. CNN senior diplomatic editor Nic

Robertson joins us now live outside the Houses of Parliament.

Nick just as it was when he addressed the U.S. Congress, this was a hugely powerful moment really in Westminster Hall today, especially when he

addressed that request for fighter pilots, referencing King Charles III.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Absolutely. As always, President Zelenskyy really fine-tuning his message to the audience.

There was the reference to his previous visit here in 2020, when he visited the war room switches, where Winston Churchill, the wartime prime minister

in the U.K., ran and helped direct the U.K.'s defensive and then offensive operations against Nazi Germany.

Zelenskyy said the guide asked him, would you like to sit in the chair where Churchill sat.

He said I did.

And the guide had asked him, what do you feel?

Zelenskyy telling the parliamentarians in his speech today that only now does he realize what Churchill would have gone through, that the weight of

all those decisions. But he did continue to speak about that brighter horizon, that brighter future, that together we can defeat evil. We've done

it before. It's in our nature. It's in Ukraine's nature.

It's in the nature of the U.K. people, really appealing to everything. But I think that what he had to say -- we don't know of course what he said

behind closed doors to King Charles. But what he did say to the parliamentarians about King Charles was so poignant.

King Charles is an air force pilot. In Ukraine, as you said, in Ukraine, every air force pilot is our king.


Because they're in such short supply.


Because they do such an important job.

And this was absolutely central to his core message today, which was to push the need for fighter jets. He handed a helmet of one of Ukraine's ace

fighter pilots to Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of Parliament.

Emblazoned on that helmet was, "We have the freedom. Give us the wings to defend it."

Of course the U.K. has made a big statement today. It said that it is going to help train Ukrainian fighter pilots on modern NATO jets for the future.

No commitment yet as far as we know. But the statement from the British about training Ukrainian fighter pilots certainly sounds like a prelude for

a move in that direction.

MACFARLANE: Yes and no doubt that, in pushing Britain to be bolder, he will hope that will encourage Western allies to do the same, as we've seen

already in the past. Nic, thanks very much for now, outside the Houses of Parliament there.

We have word that Mr. Zelenskyy's trip will include another stop after London. He will cross the Channel to France, where he plans to meet with

two more European allies, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

They'll meet with the Ukrainian leader in Paris. Now supplies are pouring into the region struck by Monday's earthquake. How to get them to the

people that need them most. Ahead, we are live from a distribution site in Turkiye.

And now that the U.S. has shut down the suspected Chinese spy balloon --


MACFARLANE: -- other countries are claiming that similar balloons have floated over their territory. What Taiwan is saying later this hour.




MACFARLANE: Welcome back. I'm Christina Macfarlane in London. Let's get more now on the aftermath of that earthquake in Turkiye and Syria.

Crews are picking up the pace as the search for survivors is now in its third day. It's a needle in a haystack search and just in the past hour, we

have heard of several new rescues. But many more victims have been found dead. The number of lives lost now surpasses a staggering 11,000.


MACFARLANE (voice-over): Sobs of agony as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the region where the quake was hit today. He promised

issues with the government's response are being worked out. CNN's Becky Anderson, the host of CONNECT THE WORLD, also traveled to the epicenter,

where there have been moments of celebration and grief and where everyone is wondering what comes next.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): From underneath the destruction, a momentary sigh of relief. The search and rescue teams find a

sign of life while sifting through the rubble. But seconds later, another lifeless body is found.

Monday's devastating quake has left an ever-growing death toll in its thousands leaving families across Turkiye and Syria without homes and

without loved ones.

As the snow falls, grief has been compounded with freezing conditions. Huddled around a small fire survivors worry about friends and relatives

still trapped under the rubble. Forbidden by authorities to intervene, Murat Alinak says he just wants to help recover his relatives to give them

a proper sendoff.

MURAT ALINAK, QUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): We are under the snow without a home, without anything we can overcome this, we can fast for 40

days and still overcome this. But let us recover for the funerals.

ANDERSON: International aid has poured in from all corners of the world. France, Mexico, Germany and India are some of the countries who have

pledged to step up efforts. Planes carrying supplies from Iran and Iraq, also arriving in Damascus on Tuesday. As C-17 cargo planes from the UAE

flew quickly to the quake-stricken area.

UMUR ZAMANOGLU, TURKISH SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM LEADER: Now 25,000 of the Turkish search and rescue crew is on the mission.


ZAMANOGLU: And an estimated 5,000 people is coming from the other country.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Back in Gaziantep, survivors at this gas station are desperately trying to fill up and find safety away from the


But as lines stretch throughout the airport, with cancellations expected for at least three days and Turkiye's Erdogan declaring a state of

emergency for the next three months, passengers slowly resigned to the fact that there may be no escape anytime soon -- Becky Anderson, CNN, Gaziantep.


MACFARLANE: Some of the most heartbreaking moments of this tragedy are very quiet. They involve more than mountains of collapsed concrete. They're

about a parent losing a child. These images of intimate grief, while difficult to look at, tell the biggest story of a quake disaster.

Fifteen-year-old Imrak Hancer (ph) didn't make it out of the rubble alive. But her dad stays by her side, no matter what, because that is what dads


Clearly heartbreaking images there. But we know that rescue teams are on the ground from around the world and aid is arriving for quake survivors.

For example, China just promised millions of dollars in supplies for Syria.

And here is a look at how their supplies are being loaded for Turkiye. In the U.S., from baby food to bottled water.

How do you get those boxes of supplies to the people who need it?

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is at an aid distribution site in Istanbul.

Salma, we know that this is a huge logistical operation, with supplies coming in from all over the world. Tell us how this has been coordinated.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just want to show you this space, an aid distribution center, which is really just a hangar that's been turned

into this space for hundreds of volunteers.

Just going to start showing you here, stepping out of the shot to let you take a look. You can see over here, they set up these tables where

volunteers come in. They sign up. They got hundreds of people, just ordinary residents of Istanbul, coming because they've told us.

They feel like they can't sit at home anymore and watch those images that are so heart wrenching, that are so heartbreaking. They had to come and do

something. They pack these boxes.

And everything inside of them is donations, things that are coming from families or businesses or religious groups or anyone that wants to help.

Each of these boxes is packed with non medical supplies, so diapers or paper products or sanitary products. Food, of course. Blankets and clothes

for the children.

Everyone here has that same sense of camaraderie. They tell us, we see that suffering. We see the people huddled in the cold in the earthquake zone. We

see families waiting, wishing, hoping and praying that their loved ones are alive and OK. And we just want to do anything we can to help.

This is an enormous operation. This is a volunteer effort organized by the municipality of Istanbul. But here, people see that there is a gap. The

Turkish government simply can't spread out across that entire zone.

I'm going to keep walking a bit. Give you a sense of the space. I want to take another look. Look at all of what's going on here. You think it's

disorganized. You think it's chaos. But they're actually shouting orders over loudspeakers. They've already packed dozens of trucks.

Just a few moments ago, yet another huge truck, a huge lorry going to that affected zone. A real sense of solidarity here, a true sense of solidarity,

that maybe one more family doesn't have to go home cold tonight.

Maybe one more kid can get a meal tonight. It's just almost unfathomable how much this has impacted the country and the people here want to fill

that gap. They know that the need is enormous and that there can never be enough help.

MACFARLANE: Salma, it's remarkable to see the camaraderie of the people around you there, clearly coming together in this effort. We know that so

many of these stories we hear about are about rescued children.

What efforts are being made in particular when it comes to children?

ABDELAZIZ: Unfortunately, in Syria, the picture is even more dire. That is a country that has been in conflict for nearly 12 years now. That means any

child under the age of 12 was born in a war, was traumatized by war. Now those children are having to survive the aftermath of an earthquake. Take a

look at how that's unfolding.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): This is no way to come into the world, birthed during an earthquake, thrust into a war zone, orphaned and alone.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): This newborn girl was found alive, her umbilical cord still attached to her dead mother's body, buried under the rubble of

their home.

This video shows the moments after rescue workers pulled her out of the ruins.

"We found the parents' bodies lying next to each other. Then we heard a faint sound," he says.

"We dug, we cleared the dust and found the baby, still tied by her umbilical cord. So we cut it off and sent her to hospital."

The rest of baby Jeanne Doe's immediate family lies in the back of this pickup truck, all dead before they even knew she was alive.

An entire generation of Syrians has been born into war. Now those traumatized children face yet another catastrophe. And for now, help is not

coming. U.N. officials say the only route for getting international aid into Syria via Turkiye is impassable because of damage to the road caused

by the earthquake.

Diplomatic efforts are underway to open a humanitarian corridor. But already, there are concerns access is being politicized. The Damascus

government, heavily sanctioned by the West, insists it should be the sole coordinator.

BASSAM SABBAGH, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: So if it happened to your country or to his country, it will be the same. Without the control of the

government, without permission of the government, without approval from the government, this is violation. It's very simple.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But few in a rebel held areas, places bombarded for years by president Bashar al-Assad, believe the government that once

leveled their neighborhoods would care to save them now. And the clock is ticking to find any survivors under hundreds of collapsed buildings.

Like Maryam (ph); this social media video shows her more than 36 hours after the quake, soothing her little brother, Elav (ph).

"(INAUDIBLE), please," she says to the rescue workers. "Please help us. I'll do anything if you could just help us."

Eventually, the siblings are pulled out and brought to their terrified parents, a rare moment of triumph in an otherwise bitter tragedy.


ABDELAZIZ: Such unimaginable suffering there. And while here there is an organized effort that is begun, that is trying to meet the needs on the

ground in Syria, that glimmer of hope those moments that we need those moments that families hold on to, that there is still an opportunity to

pull people out of the rubble, like little Maryam (ph), those moments are fading by the second because people simply can't get access to help.

MACFARLANE: Yes. Salma Abdelaziz there, live for us. In Istanbul. Salma, thank you very much.

As you can see from Salma's live shot there, everyone is rallying to send help. If you would like to help, you can go to You'll find

a list of organizations working on rescue and relief efforts. That's

Coming up, China bristles at the U.S. President's comments about competition in his annual address to Congress. We'll have more from


Also, Chinese balloon sightings in Taiwan. CNN obtained images of balloons hovering over the island in recent months. We'll tell you what Taiwan is

saying when we return.





MACFARLANE: U.S. President Joe Biden struck an optimistic tone of bipartisanship during his annual State of the Union address. Even though at

times, he had to push through heckling from some House Republicans.

Mr. Biden touted his economic and legislative gains and pointed to some of the challenges his administration faces, including from China, after a

suspected Chinese spy balloon slipped into American airspace and was shot down. MJ Lee has the story.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because

the people of this nation are strong, the State of the Union is strong.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden seizing on a major prime time address to a joint session of Congress to

reflect on the past two years.

BIDEN: The story of America is the story of progress and resilience.

LEE: -- and lay out his vision for the next two.

BIDEN: Let's finish the job.

LEE: Biden describing an inflection point for the country, arguing that the U.S. economy has made a turnaround.

BIDEN: Two years ago, the economy was reeling. I stand here tonight after we created it with the help of many people in this room, 12 million new


LEE: But the COVID pandemic is now in the rearview mirror --

BIDEN: Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.

LEE: -- and also touting some of his major legislative accomplishments.

BIDEN: I signed over 300 bipartisan pieces of legislation since becoming president.

LEE: A notable difference from Biden's last State of the Union Address, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy seated behind the president.

BIDEN: And the new speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy.

LEE: At times stoic as Democrats applauded the speech --

BIDEN: Our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.

LEE: And at other times, visibly trying to quiet his colleagues as they heckled Biden, including on the topic of entitlement cuts.

BIDEN: Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I'm not saying it's a majority.

Let me give you -- anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I'll give you a copy -- I'll give you a copy of the proposal. Look --

LEE: Still, the president insisting that he will work with the other party.

BIDEN: There's no reason we can't work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress as well.

LEE: Foreign policy also in the spotlight following the dramatic downing over the weekend of a Chinese spy balloon, Biden only making a passing

reference to the incident and instead emphasizing America's readiness to compete with China.

The guests invited to Tuesday night's speech by First Lady Jill Biden painting a story of some of the president's top priorities and challenges

over the past year.

LEE (voice-over): Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., a reminder of how much the war in Ukraine has tested and dominated Biden's second year in office.

BIDEN: We're going to stand with you, as long as it takes.

LEE: Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was violently attacked in his home and raised alarm about political extremism.

BIDEN: That's such a heinous act. It should have never happened. We must all speak out.

LEE: And the parents of Tyre Nichols, a man whose death after a violent beating by police officers prompted outrage and grief across the country.

BIDEN: Let's commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre's mom true, something good must come from this.

All of us in this chamber, we need to rise to this moment. We can't turn away.


MACFARLANE: That was MJ Lee reporting.

The U.S. Navy is sending debris from the Chinese suspected spy balloon to an FBI lab for analysis.


MACFARLANE: Fighter jets shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday. Taiwan has also been the target of Chinese balloons and it says

the incident shouldn't be tolerated by the international community. CNN's Will Ripley has more now from Taipei.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Chinese propaganda video, released just days ago, shows the military muscle

of China's People's Liberation Army.

The PLA, promising to reunite with Taiwan, planning to build a bullet train across the Taiwan Strait, pledging to take control of this island of almost

24 million, bringing the self-governing democracy under Communist control.

One of the Chinese military's tools: high altitude balloons. They've been testing them for years.

BIDEN: They just shot it.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The U.S. shot down this suspected Chinese spy balloon last week. Beijing calls it a civilian weather balloon.

CNN obtained images of similar Chinese balloons, hovering over Taiwan in recent months, including this one on New Year's Eve and this one a few

months earlier.

At least four balloon sightings in the last two years, says Su Tzu-yun, director of Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

He said the island's relatively small size, about the same as the state of Florida, gives Taiwan's military limited time to intercept balloons or even

shoot them down.


important ICBM site of the United States.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Su says balloons can capture high-resolution images of sensitive sites, potentially making China's ICBMs more accurate. Taipei

says Chinese spy balloons should not be tolerated by the international community.

Last year, dozens of civilian drones from China captured videos of Taiwanese military outposts. Soldiers responded with rocks and flares,

managing to shoot at least one drone down. Taiwan's defense ministry says 121 Chinese military planes flew near the island just last month.

LEV NACHMAN, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: So Taiwan is one of those places that is constantly under this kind of threatening surveillance.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Taipei-based political scientist Lev Nachman tells me the balloon scandal sets back months of crucial diplomacy.

U.S.-China tensions could flare up even more if U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy goes ahead with plans to visit Taiwan, following former Speaker

Nancy Pelosi's trip last year, triggering Chinese outrage and massive military drills around Taiwan -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


MACFARLANE: When we come back --


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MACFARLANE: Stay with, us CONNECT THE WORLD is continuing after the short break.