A baby girl has been reportedly rescued from the rubble of her home in northern Syria following Monday’s massive earthquake.
Her umbilical cord was still attached to her mother when she was found, a relative told local media.
Her mother is believed to have died after giving birth.
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“We heard a voice while we were digging,” cousin Khalil al-Suwadi said.
“We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact), so we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital.”
The rescued newborn is now receiving treatment at a children’s hospital in the town of Afrin, where pediatrician Hani Maarouf said that she is stable but arrived with bruises, lacerations and hypothermia.
She is believed to be the sole survivor of her immediate family, according to Suwadi. They lived in a five-story apartment building that was levelled by the quake.
Survivors are still being pulled from the rubble in Syria and Turkey, where a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck early on Monday morning local time.
The official death toll of the earthquake has jumped to more than 8700 as overwhelmed rescuers warn the number will grow significantly with families still trapped under the rubble.
Rescue efforts have been complicated by freezing conditions, blocked roads, damaged infrastructure and several violent aftershocks.
In Turkey, many people spent a second night of freezing temperatures sleeping in their cars or in the streets under blankets, worried to go back into buildings shaken by the country’s deadliest quake since 1999.
A Perth family with loved ones in Turkey have spoken about their heartbreak and helplessness, with more than six relatives still missing.
Ozgur Ozturk has loved ones in southern Turkey and shared how her sister and brother-in-law found a school to sleep in after being forced to live in their cars in freezing temperatures.
The Booragoon mother has also lost a cousin in the disaster, while family that did survive search for others in the devastation
“Sometimes you just cry but you run out of tears because there is just nothing you can do,” she said.
“All we can do is just constantly message and call and talk to them to show that we are there for them.”
In Antakya, in the south of Turkey, survivor Melek, 64, said she had not seen any rescue teams.
“Where are the tents, where are food trucks? We haven’t seen any food distribution here, unlike previous disasters in our country,” she said. “We survived the earthquake, but we will die here due to hunger or cold here.”
With the scale of the disaster becoming ever more apparent, the death toll – now 6234 in Turkey – looks likely to keep on rising.
In neighbouring Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the death toll climbed to more than 2500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.
State of emergency
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces. But residents in several damaged Turkish cities have voiced anger and despair at what they said was a slow and inadequate response by the authorities.
The initial quake struck just after 4am on Monday, the dead of night in the dead of winter, giving the sleeping population little chance to react.
Erdogan, facing a tight election in May, is expected to visit some of the affected areas on Wednesday.
Turkish authorities say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 kilometres from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east – broader than that between Boston and Philadelphia, or Amsterdam and Paris.
The quake, followed hours later by a second one almost as powerful, toppled thousands of buildings including hospitals, schools and apartment blocks, injured tens of thousands, and left countless people homeless in Turkey and northern Syria.
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Rescue workers have struggled to reach some of the worst-hit areas, held back by destroyed roads, poor weather and a lack of resources and heavy equipment. Some areas are without fuel and electricity.
Aid officials voiced particular concern about the situation in Syria, where humanitarian needs were already greater than at any point since the eruption of a conflict that has partitioned the nation and is complicating relief efforts.
The head of the World Health Organisation has said the rescue efforts face a race against time, with the chances of finding survivors alive slipping away with every minute and hour.
In Syria, a rescue service operating in the insurgent-held northwest said the number of dead had climbed to more than 1280 with more than 2600 injured.
“The number is expected to rise significantly due to the presence of hundreds of families under the rubble, more than 50 hours after the earthquake,” the rescue service said on Twitter.
Overnight, the Syrian health minister said the number of dead in government-held areas rose to 1250, the state-run al-Ikhbariya news outlet reported on its Telegram feed. The number of wounded was 2054, he said.
Turkey’s deadliest earthquake in a generation has handed Erdogan a huge rescue and reconstruction challenge, which will overshadow the run-up to the May elections, already set to be the toughest of his two decades in power.
The vote, too-close-to-call according to polls before the quake, will determine how Turkey is governed, where its economy is headed and what role the regional power and NATO member may play to ease conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.
– With CNN and AAP
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