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Isa Soares Tonight

Death Toll Soars Past 7,000 As Tens Of Thousands Still Remain Injured In Turkey And Syria; International Aid Pours In For Search And Rescue Efforts In Syria And Turkey; German Defense Minister Visits Kyiv, Promises Leopard 1 Tanks; More Than 7,000 Dead In Turkiye And Syria As Rescuers Dig Through Debris For Survivors; U.S. President Joe Biden's State Of The Union; China Says Balloon Belongs To Them. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 07, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello and a very warm welcome to the show, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, we get straight to our top story. Rescuers

are digging through apocalyptic scenes, at times, frantically calling for silence as they listen for voices, hoping to find any signs of life, as

loved ones of the missing endure an agonizing wait for news.

It's been almost two days since that devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkey, and the death toll has now soared past 7,000. Thousands of

buildings collapsed in both countries, many in the initial quake, others in aftershocks.




SOARES: And we are seeing some extraordinary rescues, such as this little boy pulled from the rubble, as you saw there, in Syria, but also so much

heartbreak. This harrowing image shows a father in Turkey holding the hand of his daughter, who did not make it out alive. While Turkey's president

has declared a three-month state of emergency in ten provinces, the World Health Organization says, as many as 23 million people may be affected

right across the region.

Well, our Becky Anderson is on the scene of a building collapsed in Gaziantep in Turkey, very near the earthquake's epicenter, and she joins us

now live with the very latest. And Becky, it's clearly stark, it's bitterly cold from what I have seen. But the rescue operations are continuing. Just

describe what you're seeing right now.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the rescue -- the rescue and search and rescue continues behind me here. And I'm just thinking of the

image that you just showed of the man with his child who, sadly, didn't make it. And I'm afraid images like that, scenes like that being reflected

all over this region here in Turkey and in Syria.

Not least here in the west of Gaziantep on the site behind me. This is a building, Isa, that has completely collapsed. It was a ten-story building,

including the car park below, very similar to the building on the left-hand side, which is still standing, but has cracks in it. And as you can see

through the trees, perhaps you can see how the infrastructure on this building has also been massively affected.

The building next to it to its -- to the right-hand side, also in a very bad state of disrepair. But it's the activity on this site which is most

heartbreaking at the moment. We've been hearing those calls for silence throughout the day, the generators go off, the heavy machinery has been

working on the site beside us here and further down the road stopped as the rescue teams here believe that they hear a sign of life.

There are at least 15 people unaccounted for at this site behind me. Sadly, earlier on this evening, we did see a white sheet being held up by the

rescuers, a mark of respect for the body of the person who was being pulled out. The people beside me here are just standing, observing and waiting.

Many of them are family members of those who would have been living in that building, they're keeping themselves warm with the fires here, and many of

them have been here for more than 40 hours now.

That earthquake struck at just after 4 O'clock in the morning on Monday, it's now 10 O'clock at night on Tuesday night. It is bitterly cold, as it

was when that 7.8 quake struck. Awful scenes of devastation, not just here in Gaziantep, in this part of Gaziantep, but throughout this region.

Further to the north and slightly even closer to the epicenter.

Reports from our colleagues that entire towns have been flattened, and we're hearing reports in northwest Syria, which is across the border about

a 100 kilometers south of here, of Aleppo, of Idlib where there's no fuel, no water, no electricity, no heating.


And buildings completely destroyed and very little support, in terms of search and rescue, in terms of emergency supplies getting into those areas,

perhaps not -- certainly not as much as you are seeing here. And it's very small amounts of support here as well. I mean, Turkey is a country that is

not unfamiliar with earthquakes.

Some concerns about the way that the Turkish authorities have been able to react to what's going on. Certainly, President Erdogan has called the state

of emergency for the next three months, 5,500 buildings in Turkey alone have collapsed. Two and a half thousand people have been rescued.

But as you rightly pointed out, the W.H.O. says there are 23 million people across this region who are affected by this quake. The aftershocks continue

for some time, and in fact, just earlier on today, reports of another one earlier on this evening. So, this work will continue. It will continue

until it is a recovery phase. There is still hope that they will bring people out alive, but of course, at this stage, those hopes are dwindling,


SOARES: Yes, and like you showed us around, just those people watching, clinging on to hope, Becky. I assume many people also very scared to go

back to their homes because of aftershocks. What are they --

ANDERSON: Right --

SOARES: Telling you?

ANDERSON: Yes, they are. They're very scared. I mean, there're many people sitting around this fires all the way down the street who have got blankets

on, they're sitting on the side of the pavement there, very frightened about going back. In fact, we've been asked to move away from a building

about 50 yards or so away from here because they do expect that building to collapse.

That was a seven-story building which is now a four-story building, and there was a search and rescue operation live there earlier on today. And

there were 24 people in that building when the quake struck, four, thankfully, have been recovered, alive, a three-year-old, a seven-year-old

and two adults.

But there are still 20 in that building unaccounted for. But the search and rescue has had to stop because the building is completely insecure at this

point, and they believe it may come down. And there are now real concerns about this building to my left and to the right as well.

So, you're right to point out it's bitterly cold. People are being fed, it's amazing to see how people respond in situations like this. People have

been given soup, people are coming around and giving people coffees and whatever they can. But it is a -- it's really a heartbreaking situation.


SOARES: Our thoughts with everyone in Turkey right now. Becky Anderson for us in Gaziantep, thanks very much, Becky, appreciate it. Well, in Syria,

rescue crews are desperately searching for survivors. They believe hundreds of families are still buried beneath the rubble, and cold Winter

temperatures, as Becky was saying, mean they're racing, really, against time.

After years of civil war, political tensions are making the rescuer's job even harder. The U.N. says the earthquake has cut off a key crossing from

Turkey that it uses to transport aid, and hospitals say, they are overwhelmed. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has a story of one young girl whose life

has been reshaped by this disaster, and some of the video in Salma's reporting is disturbing.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Little Robyn(ph) has lost her mother. both her siblings too. All three killed by a massive earthquake

that leveled her home. This was Robyn(ph) just a few hours before, rushed to safety after she was pulled out of the rubble, her clothes stained with


The toddler will be cared for by her uncle, while her father recovers in hospital from his wounds, activist say. This is a place all too familiar

with heartbreak, devastated by nearly 12 years of war, there was little luck to cope with yet another catastrophe. Northwestern Syria was rattled

by a 7. 8 magnitude quake and dozens of aftershocks.

But in the first moments, traumatized residents wondered if warplanes were overhead again. Torn apart by civil conflict, the response to this disaster

is divided along political lines. In the rebel-held province of Idlib, rescue workers known as the White Helmets, labored through the night, to

pull out the dead and the living.

Drone shots reveal the scope and scale of their grim task, while countless families searching for missing loved ones endure an agonizing wait. But

help can't reach everyone. In remote areas, relatives are desperately digging with bare hands.


"My family is underneath the rubble, my children and grandchildren", this man says. "But there's no way to get them out. No one to rescue them. No

machinery. I think they're still alive. We hear their voices." Any survivors found are rushed to overwhelmed hospitals like this one, where

beds for patients have run out, the deadly bleeding on the floor and the body bags keep piling up.

In government-controlled areas, residents are largely cut off from the international aid being poured into the disaster zone. President Bashar al-

Assad's regime is heavily sanctioned by the West for bombarding his own people. Here, it's Syria's supporters, the patrons of the conflict, Russia

and Iran offering aid, Moscow's troops are supporting search and recovery efforts.

And President Putin has vowed to send more help. But disaster knows no politics. Here, families are desperate for news too. "I can't find my

sister", this woman says, "she lived on the second floor with her son and three daughters. Maybe they didn't get out. We've checked the hospitals,

we've looked everywhere for them. God, I hope they're OK."

Syrians feel their plight was long forgotten and neglected. Now, with their tragedy thrust into the spotlight again, it's up to the world to hear their

pleas. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Istanbul.


SOARES: Well, Turkey's president says 70 countries and 14 international organizations have offered assistance for search and rescue operations. The

aid is coming from all over, including countries which don't have the best relations with Ankara, like Greece, which has sent firefighters, rescue

dogs and doctors to help find earthquake survivors. The Greek Prime Minister says, "it's what good neighbors do." Have a listen.


KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER, GREECE: It's just not the first time that earthquakes have struck, you know, our countries and in cases, we had

a big earthquake in Turkey in 1999, you know, Greece offered its assistance. There were earthquakes in Greece where Turkey has offered its

assistance. At the end of the day, this is the time to sort of temporarily set aside our differences and try to address what is a very urgent



SOARES: Nada Bashir joins me now with more. So Nada, give us a sense, we heard 70 countries or so offering. What does Turkey need right now? What

have we heard from the president?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, there is an overwhelming list of things which Turkey needs when it comes to that support. As you heard there, at

least 70 countries so far pledging that aid that Turkey has requested. The United Nations saying it will offer support in all fronts.

And Turkey, itself, has dedicated all ministries, all government services, to focusing on that rescue effort. But at this stage, every single minute

counts. And they're --

SOARES: Yes --

BASHIR: Working tirelessly for that search and rescue effort. And as we've seen from a number of countries, they have pledged support in the form of

sending search and rescue teams, in terms of sending sniffer dogs and the likes, that to focus on that rescue effort. But of course, there is also

the aftermath that they have to deal with.

So, medical supplies, blankets, food, ensuring that people have tents and shelter because of course, the weather is so bitterly cold at this stage,

and really difficult for those now who have been displaced, particularly, of course, those in northern Syria have not been displaced just once, but

multiple times now, and are living in an acute state of vulnerability.

SOARES: Yes, and so many people who fled, of course, who fled Syria ended up in Gaziantep, it's a refuge city, in many ways. Thank you very much Nada

Bashir. Timing clearly is of the essence. Well, let's talk more about aid in Syria as Nada was mentioning there. Kenn Crossley is the country

director and representative for the World Food Program in Syria, and he joins me now from Damascus.

Kenn, great to have you on the show. Look, we've seen some of the images, but just give us a sense, really, of the scale of this devastation on the


KENN CROSSLEY, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM IN SYRIA: Yes, I know, pleasure to be here, and it is truly disturbing scale. We have seen, of

course, hundreds and maybe thousands dead, definitely thousands injured. We've seen many people sleeping on the streets, their homes destroyed,

infrastructure no longer working, and then all the stories that you just heard from your correspondents and Becky, unfortunately we can relate to

right here in Syria as well.

SOARES: And so, I mean, this is clearly, as my correspondents have been saying in the last -- in the last 20 minutes or so, this is a desperate

situation made worse, of course, by 12 years or so of civil war. Just give us a sense of what is needed right now on the ground. And I'm thinking

equipment to clear the rubble, medicine, aid, shelter. What do you need right now?

CROSSLEY: That is correct. You've listed all the right things. Of course, the World Food Program, we're particularly interested in something as

simple as people need to eat. We do have people who are -- thousands of people now sheltering in temporary gyms, residences and shelters.


We've been able to provide already 5,000 people with hot meals. Working with local partners, we've been able to get enough food to feed roughly 30

to 40,000 people per week in the hands of the partners. So, food continues to be a major issue. But the medicines, the shelter, the health, it's very

cold right now in Syria, so anything to keep people warm, these continues to be serious needs for the people who are now recently homeless and


SOARES: And again, any of these, any food, any aid getting in? Because as we've been reporting, the only crossing between Syria and Turkey that's

approved by the U.N. for kind of transporting aid into Syria is not functioning because of damage to earthquakes. So, is anything getting in at

this stage?

CROSSLEY: Yes, so again, at WFP, unfortunately, we've been present here for more than a decade. We actually had already preposition supplies in

case of an emergency inside of northwest Syria, and in government-held areas. So, we have enough food on hand to feed roughly a 100,000 people, at

least for a week.

So, we do have, for the time being, supplies that we had already prepositioned. But it is the case that as the scale increases, as the

duration extends, we will need to negotiate more and more access into northwestern Syria. We would like to think that all parties recognize that

hunger is not a political issue, hunger is just a human issue, and that they will, in fact, see the value of permitting us to have the access from

everywhere we need to get in.

SOARES: And just give us a sense, I mean, you talked about the scale. We can see some of the devastation in Aleppo, Syria. But in terms of those

you're feeding, you said 100,000. How many more now are displaced? How many more would you need to feed? Just to get an idea here of the scale.

CROSSLEY: So, the early estimates -- and by the way, we're still only feeding sort of 5 to 20,000. We have enough food ready for a 100,000. Our

worry is that it could go as almost 200,000 on the early estimates. So we're currently planning on around 200,000 person in need. But I should

point out, we're already feeding 5.5 million people in Syria.

So, this is 5.5 million people, we already have an entire supply chain able to reach those. And these are, unfortunately, exactly some of the same

people. These are not new. So, when you add this couple of 100,000 on top of the 5.5 million people we already assist, that gives you a sense of the

true tragedy, the true scale of need that the world we hope will respond to here in Syria.

SOARES: Yes, and of course, for so many years of conflict and you really laid out intentions, the fear, of course, is that this impedes the response

to disaster. But I mean, it can also, can it not? Be a catalyst for change? Talk to us about the importance of disaster diplomacy here.

CROSSLEY: We do see signs of hope. It's not only a negative story. I mean, we've been having very good conversations with all parties, including the

minister of foreign affairs. Every time, we say we need to have access, we need to get import permits, we need to get supplies, they've been very

responsive helping us be able to get this assistance in.

So, we are seeing positive trends, positive signs, an entire community rallying around together to try and make sure that the people of Syria do

get the assistance that they need. We're of course starting from a very difficult place. But we are seeing positive signs. We are encouraged that

this can continue.

SOARES: Kenn Crossley, really appreciate you taking the time, I know you have a very busy schedule, thank you very much, sir. And still to come

tonight, Ukraine's allies are promising more military aid to help the country defend itself.

We'll tell you what that's -- what's coming next. And we'll also meet 102- year-old Ukrainian great grandmother who has seen horrific tragedies at the hands of the Russians for more than a century. And hear how she is still

supporting Ukraine's resistance. Both those stories after this short break. You are watching CNN.



SOARES: Well, freezing -- really freezing temperatures and destruction on what truly, as you can see, there is massive scale, intense rescue

operations are underway this hour in Syria and Turkey following Monday's major earthquake. The latest estimate indicates more than 7,000 people were

killed. Hospitals in Syria already devastated by years of civil war are overwhelmed with patients.

That is according to a UNICEF representative. Rescuers believe that hundreds of families are still trapped beneath collapsed buildings across

southern Turkey as well as northwestern Syria. Well, Ukraine is sending condolences, as well as aid to earthquake victims. People are laying

flowers and lighting candles outside the Turkish Embassy, as you can see there in Kyiv.

And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to Turkey's president by phone. He said 87 Ukrainian emergency staff will soon arrive in Turkey to help with

rescue efforts. Meantime, help will soon be arriving in Ukraine in the form of tanks. Germany's defense minister made an unannounced trip to Kyiv on


He said that Ukrainian troops will soon begin training on Leopard 2 tanks in Germany, and he announced that Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands will

send a 100 refurbished Leopard 1 tanks by Spring of next year. CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me now from Kyiv. So Fred, what more do we know about this

unannounced trip from the German defense minister?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Isa. It was a really important trip by the German defense minister considering

he's just in office for a couple of weeks. And I think for two reasons. On the one hand, he told the Ukrainians that those Leopard 2 tanks, which

really could be one of the linchpins for their tank fleet going forward, because there are so many other countries in Europe who have those types of

tanks and who could give those to Ukraine.

That those could be arriving here in Ukraine by the end of March. And that Ukrainian troops will start training on those tanks in the very near

future, very soon. So, that definitely the Ukrainians hope will be in the future, one of the backbones of their tank fleets. But the other thing that

we've been looking at is those Leopard 1 tanks that we were also promised by the German Defense Minister today as well.

The Germans still have a lot of those tanks in storage. A lot of them have to be refurbished. But they have said that the first 20 to 25 could also

arrive here by about the middle of this year. The Leopard 1 is a tank that, of course, is by far not as modern as the Leopard 2, as far as the

electronics is concerned.

Also has a very small or a smaller cannon than the Leopard 2. But it's still a very capable vehicle, and certainly something that the Ukrainians

say they can use on the battlefield. And of course, we know, Isa, that right now, the situation on the battlefield, especially in the east of the

country, remains quite difficult for the Ukrainians.

If you look around Bakhmut, the Ukrainians themselves acknowledging the Russians are making some gains there. But they're also saying that they see

the Russians gearing up for what could very well be a big offensive very soon. They say the Russians are stockpiling ammunition, they're conserving

some of the ammunitions that are firing widely like they were in the past.

But they're also bringing a lot of those newly mobilized people to the frontlines as well. Folks that they mobilized at the end of last year, when

the Russians said, they mobilized around 300,000 people. A lot of them now arriving there in the east of the country. And the Ukrainians certainly

fear there could be a very big push from the Russians coming very soon.

When you speak to commanders on the ground, they say they are ready, but they certainly also acknowledge it's going to be very difficult for them in

the next couple of months, Isa.


SOARES: Important context there from our Fred Pleitgen for us in Kyiv this hour. Thanks very much, Fred. Well, nearly one century ago, millions of

Ukrainians were killed in a man-made famine inflicted by the Soviet regime. Today, many Ukrainians believe they are fighting off another attempt at

genocide carried out by Russia.

CNN's Sam Kiley met one great grandmother who has lived through it all and is now helping her beloved country fight back.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 102, Liubov's survival is extraordinary, not least, because she's endured three

famines over her century, and all of them blamed on the Kremlin.

LIUBOV YAROSH, HOLODOMOR SURVIVOR (through translator): We ate linden leaves and nettles. We used to grind these wild plants into flour, bake

with it and eat it.

KILEY: At 13, she saw her older brother and sister perish in Ukraine's worst mass starvation, the holodomor.

YAROSH: My legs were swollen, my arms were swollen, I was so sick, I thought I was going to die.

KILEY: In the early 1930s on Joseph Stalin's orders, Ukraine's farmers were stripped of every grain they produced to feed Moscow's


YAROSH: Dying children were dying of hunger. They were taken to a truck. They dug a big hole and threw them all in.

KILEY: Ukraine is now 11 months into the latest Russian invasion. Three of her grandchildren are soldiers fighting Russian troops because Russia's

president doesn't believe that Ukraine exists. "It should be noted that Ukraine actually never had stable traditions of real statehood", Putin

claimed. Russia's assault on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, failed last year. Many Ukrainians believe they're fighting off another attempt at genocide.

MYKHAILO KOSTIV, HEAD OF INFORMATION, HOLODOMOR-GENOCIDE MUSEUM (through translator): The leaders and organizers of the genocide sit in the same

offices, in the same place. At the center of these events is Moscow and the object of destruction is Ukraine as a nation.

KILEY: Ukraine's government says thousands of citizens have been forced into Russian territory, and 14,000 children are missing.

(on camera): How many millions of people died in the many famines brought upon by Russia in this country over the last century is a matter of debate

among historians. And human rights lawyers will debate whether or not what is happening today can be defined as a genocide. But there's no question

that over the last 100 years, the relationship between Moscow and Ukraine has been bleak.

YAROSH: We need to exterminate them so that not a single one is left. Only then can there be any peace.

KILEY (voice-over): To help the war effort, she ties burlap into netting to make sniper camouflage. But it may be her laughter that has kept her

going so many years.


Sam Kiley, CNN, Khodorkiv.


SOARES: A true, remarkable lady there. And still to come tonight, a firsthand look from a town near the epicenter itself. We will show you what

rescuers are facing as they dig for survivors often with their bare hands.





SOARES (voice-over): A moment of hope in scenes, really, of unimaginable horror and tragedy. This young girl, you see there, rescued after 24 hours

trapped under the rubble in Turkiye.

And the race, as you can imagine, is now desperately intensifying to find more survivors in both Turkiye and as well as Syria. A day on from the 7.8

magnitude earthquake, as well as its aftershocks.

I want to show you now these live pictures from coming to us from Osmaniye. That's quite close there, that's in southern Turkiye. We know that more

than 7,000 people have been killed.

We've been seeing truly apocalyptic scenes, as you see there, as rescuers continue using their bare hands to go through the rubble, to find more

people than maybe inside. Our correspondent, who was in Gaziantep earlier in the show, was telling us that where she was, as many as 15 people under

the rubble. Not clear in Osmaniye how many there are.

And the conditions, just so frigid, so bitterly cold. Last time I looked, it was -1. And it's just dark and so intense what you are seeing.

Turkiye's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency. And you can see workers, working through the last kind of 48

hours, to try to find more survivors. Timing, clearly, being of the essence right now.

More than 5,000, almost 5,500 buildings have collapsed. And the search now clearly on to find, the race to find the survivors. As you can see from

these images, they've got very little in terms of equipment right there. Just probably listening, looking, trying to find any sounds.

We heard from our reporters that people had been using phones, using phones, screaming. Sometimes they turn off the generators, our Becky

Anderson told us, when they believe they can hear someone and they found someone.

But timing of the essence. And they're working in extremely tough conditions. So, so cold and so many people, also worth remembering, are so

scared to go back to their homes, because of those aftershocks.

Images coming to us from Osmaniye in southern Turkiye. We will stay on top of this story, of course, for you. And when talking about tens of thousands

of people being injured and really needing help, it can be difficult to really just imagine the scale of what that actually means.

But Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground right now to give us a glimpse of what rescue workers are up against. You just saw there really the

conditions they're facing. And he also shows us the remarkable courage and patient persistence of the loved ones who were desperately waiting for




NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Here in Kahramanmaras, the town closest to the epicenter, are two simultaneous

rescue operations going on, as night begins to draw in.

In there, a 64 year old woman. Her son heard her voice, he says, this morning and he thinks she's, in fact, still lying in the bed where she was

when the earthquake struck.

But they're patiently digging in there, taking a pillow for comfort. I think you can see over here, someone there just being retrieved from the


A scene constantly, I'm told, in around us here, because there is a desperate local need for more government help. And they're doing a lot of

this themselves.

The second rescue attempt that's happening is just up there, a 12 year old boy has been found healthy in the rubble. And the rescuers are having to

dig their way in, slowly down toward him. Let me just show you while we still have light here quite how far the devastation is.

Very few of the apartment blocks in this area are standing. A building over there seems to have basically split and fallen in tow. And here, excavators

and bare hands in turn being used to try and get to anybody who might still be alive, because the hours are running short. The light is running out, it

is bitterly cold.

You can see everywhere fires people have already lit to try and keep themselves warm in these conditions. They will just get worse as will the

chances of them being able to pull their loved ones out.

But it's startling to see people who were living here quite in peace just over 24 hours ago.

Now one man I just spoke to, a testament to how people are having to deal with the tragedy, is very much themselves, actually showed me the feet of

his relative, whose body is still trapped in the rubble. They tried to give them some dignity by covering him with a blanket.

But stories like that across the wreckage here, the small attempt there by some people to get under the wreckage and try and help somebody. It seems

extraordinary bravery and persistence, despite the lack of resources they all have around here.

But just to get a feeling of quite how devastating that earthquake, probably the worst for about 100 years to hit Turkiye or the region, the

full force of it taken by this part of this town here, utterly startling devastation.


SOARES: Yes, so much devastation there. That was Nick Paton Walsh, staying in Kahramanmaras, close to the epicenter of the initial devastating quake

in Turkiye.

Well, this earthquake has left thousands of buildings in ruins. Hospitals, schools and entire apartment buildings are now in just piles of debris.

Cities, completely unrecognizable. The scale of the damage is making rescue efforts that much harder.

It's also raising questions about what needs to be done to avoid another tragedy in the future. Mustafa Erdik is a professor of earthquake

engineering at a major research university in Istanbul and he joins me now via Skype.

Mustafa, great to have you on the show. I was listening to our reporter in Gaziantep and she was telling me that about 5,000 buildings have collapsed.

When you look at the sheer devastation on the ground in Syria, what struck you?

MUSTAFA ERDIK, PROFESSOR OF EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING, BOGAZICI UNIVERSITY: Well, the thing that stuck mostly are the type of collapses, what you call

the pancake collapse, which is the type of collapse that the engineers don't like to see.

In such collapses, it's difficult, as you can see, and very tragic to save lives. And it makes the operation of the search and rescue teams very


SOARES: And what I saw, our correspondent in Gaziantep, she was showing us the one building that had completely collapsed, almost like a house of

cards. And the ones to the right and then to the left were still standing but that had cracks.

What does that tell you about the buildings themselves?

ERDIK: Well, that tells me essentially that there are highly variable qualities of designs and construction and that (INAUDIBLE). The type of

headers (ph) that we should see in such an earthquake would be partial collapses essentially.

And most (INAUDIBLE) are something you always try to avoid working close (ph) and also in the actual design. And while this is a very large

earthquake --



ERDIK: -- it's the largest that has struck since the (INAUDIBLE) produce (ph) and it is, in that sense, it is very similar to the 1906 earthquake in

California, both in side and in mechanism and everything.


ERDIK: But the obvious (ph) -- the building types in 1906 in California, they are what you see over there totally different than that makes the

deaths in a very high number.

SOARES: And of course, Turkiye had significant, very large earthquake back, I think -- you can correct me if I'm wrong -- in 1999. And that of

course, from what I understand, new building codes on construction to be more kind of -- buildings need to be more earthquake resilient.

Do you know whether some of these buildings or the majority of buildings were built pre- or post-1999?

ERDIK: Oh, I would believe that most of them were built pre-1999 or (INAUDIBLE) all the codes. But then again, I'm sure that some buildings

again that are built with respect to the new codes but with conforming to problems.

And the codes for conformance, if the codes are very modern in Turkiye, very similar to U.S. codes. But then again, the codes for conformance is an

issue that we tried to tackle with legal and administrative procedures. You know, we have the permits from municipality and controls for design,

controls for the construction.

But then again, there are things that are lacking that we have to supplement, the system, (INAUDIBLE) profession (INAUDIBLE). Any engineer

that has a four year degree at a university, whereas he has the right to sign at design, which is -- you cannot do it both in the States and in

other parts of the world.

You have to go to professional engineering training, that's one thing. And second, is those people that are in (INAUDIBLE) design and also in

construction, they should have what you call the map trackers (ph) insurance, that's another thing.

And the -- for real major high-rises, that should be peer reviewed for design. In fact, what we can see that for the -- regarding the bridges, the

major infrastructure, those rules are being followed. And there as good as you (INAUDIBLE) You don't see any damage in the bridges the real


So those are the things that we you to implement in the (INAUDIBLE) to ensure code conformity in the next constructions.

SOARES: Mustafa Erdik, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much.

ERDIK: You are welcome.

SOARES: Now for information on how to help the earthquake victims, go to You will find a list of organizations working on rescue and

relief efforts. Again, that's

And still to come on the show tonight, President Biden will take the podium in front of a divided Congress as well as the world. What we expect from

his State of the Union address. That's happening just hours from now.

Plus, the spy balloon may be down but it's still casting a shadow over U.S.-China relations. After all of this, China wants it back. We will

explain, next.





SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

The U.S. president is polishing an important speech right now. Tonight, he will deliver his first State of the Union to a divided Congress. He's

taking this podium for, of course. But this year, Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, takes one of those back row seats there, after Republicans

took control of the House.

And we expect Mr. Biden to focus on the economy but China and its surveillance balloon hang over everything. CNN's Kevin Liptak has more on

what we can expect in a little, what, over six hours time or so.

Kevin, good to see you.

What will be, then, the president's message tonight?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it will be an optimistic message, according to the White House. The president, talking

about the progress that he's made over the last two years in office but also work that needs to be done.

One thing that you will hear him say repeatedly is that the job needs to be finished on things like infrastructure and things like the Inflation

Reduction Act. All of these measures that have passed Congress but still need to be implemented.

Of course, as you mentioned, he's heading into the speech on a very different political dynamic than in his previous two years. Sitting behind

him will be the Republican House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who has basically said that he will resist all of President Biden's legislative ambitions for

the next two years.

President Biden is someone who's always looking for bipartisan cooperation. I don't expect that to necessarily be diminished in his speech tonight. But

certainly it will be an uphill climb over the next two years, as he makes these proposals in his remarks.

Now this is a very domestic policy-heavy speech. You know, the president's national security team always tries to get more in the speech than they are

able to. But he will touch on items like Ukraine, talking about continued American support for the Ukrainians.

To that end, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States will be in the House chamber tonight. She's a guest of the first lady.

The president will also talk about China. This is a part of the speech that had been reworked somewhat, given the incident with the Chinese espionage

balloon over the last week.

China had already been set to be a big part of this speech. The president talking about outcompeting China. That's an area that he thinks he has

agreement with Republicans on. And so, that will certainly be something that he wants to talk about in the speech.

Now what people are viewing the speech here in Washington is there is essentially a test run for the president's reelection message for 2024.

He's expected to make that announcement in the next several months.

But he is facing this issue that many Americans really don't say that they feel the things that he has accomplished. A poll over the weekend just out

here in Washington said that 62 percent of Americans thought that the president had accomplished not much or a little to nothing.

That's a real issue for the president, as he works to talk up his message, talk up his accomplishments. This is something that you will hear in the

speech tonight, as the president is really trying to narrow down on the things that he's done to make people's lives better.

Things like trying to eliminate junk fees, for example, on ticket booking websites. Very sort of specific examples of ways that he thinks that he's

accomplished things for the American people and things that he wants to accomplish more, as he gears up to run for reelection -- Isa.

SOARES: Kevin Liptak there for us, thanks very much, Kevin.

And a programming note for you. CNN's Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper will anchor live coverage of President Biden's State of the Union address

tonight, starting at 8 pm Eastern. That is 1 am if you are in London, 9 am in Hong Kong, right here on CNN.

Well, whatever President Biden says tonight about what's left of the Chinese surveillance balloon, Beijing is saying it's theirs and they want

it back.

Despite the balloon floating across the United States, being shot down in U.S. airspace and recovered by the U.S. Navy, as you can see from these new

pictures, well, here's China's foreign affairs spokeswoman. Have a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This balloon is not American. And the Chinese government will continue to defend its legitimate rights

and interests.


SOARES: Well, let's go live to Washington, D.C. Alex Marquardt has been following the story and standing by.

So Alex, China calling the shooting of the balloon, from what I saw today, an overreaction while the wreckage, of course, saying the wreckage belongs

to them.

What is the U.S. saying to this?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. is saying that that's not true; they didn't violate international law.


MARQUARDT: They certainly don't plan to hand it back anytime soon. It was clear, Isa, that this balloon was shot down as soon as possible in a way

that would not only be sure that people on the ground would not be hurt and not only in a way that so much of the surveillance payload could be

salvaged but also in a way that this was, to be sure, in American territorial waters shot down, in American airspace, so that international

law was not violated.

The White House has said that was done very much on purpose. In stark contrast, they say to the Chinese, who sent this balloon across the border,

violating airspace, violating American sovereign territory, American sovereignty.

So it's been quite an evolution, Isa, to watch the Chinese reaction to this. At first, expressing regret, which is not something that we hear very

often from the Chinese. And then, of course, their claim that this was just a civilian aircraft, which, of course, the Americans completely reject.

And then we started to hear more anger from the Chinese, not only demanding that they get this aircraft returned but saying that this was completely

outrageous; this was a complete overreaction, as you said.

Their excuse, from the beginning, has been that this is what they call force majeure, so forces beyond their control. That's why they say this

balloon ended up in U.S. airspace, Isa.

SOARES: Alex Marquardt for us there, thanks very much, Alex.

We will have more news after this short break.




SOARES: Well, finally tonight, we will return to our top story. Almost two days into rescue operations in Turkiye and Syria and workers say they are

racing against time.

You're looking there at live images from Osmaniye in southern Turkiye, where, you can see there, the time, there it's almost 10 pm. And what we

are seeing, from what I've been told by my team, these are French rescuers.

When we spoke to them earlier but with the last half an hour, there were four of them, using their bare hands. But now it's bigger group of rescuers

working in tonight in very frigid temperatures, trying to rescue as many people as possible, of course.

The U.N. expecting 23 million people or so could be affected. But timing, clearly of the essence right now, to rescue as many people as possible from

the rubble.


SOARES: Well, these drone shots taking only hours ago show just part of the battle that rescue workers face. The region is overwhelmed with ruins,

you can see, there from collapsed buildings.

Now we are about to show you something that at first is difficult to watch. It's a little Syrian girl, comforting her sibling, while rescuers tried to

free them both from the rubble.


SOARES (voice-over): Rescuers are talking to the little girl, her name is Maria and you can see Maria patting Elir's (ph) head here and hear her

answering the rescuers with her soft but strong voice. The children and their parents were trapped in the rubble for two days, according to their

father. But then thankfully --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yahweh! Yahweh! Yahweh!

(Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): And you can hear the cheers when Maria was freed. The children's father, Mustafa (INAUDIBLE) says the whole family was rescued

after people heard them praying aloud. He gave CNN permission to show their faces and share their story.

And he said, "Thank God we are all alive and we thank those who rescued us."

Wonderful to see Maria and her sibling there. Thanks for watching us tonight. Do stay right here with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" up next. We

will bring you, of course, continuing coverage of the devastating earthquake in Turkiye. I will see you tomorrow, bye-bye.