Two children are strapped between concrete, their heads bowed to one side, as aid workers reassure them that help has arrived 36 hours after an earthquake destroyed their home in northern Syria.
“Get me out of here, I’ll do anything for you,” the older child whispers. “I will be your servant.”
A rescuer replies, “No, no.”
Video shows rescuers sitting in the rubble of a children’s home in Besnia-Basnia, a small village near the Syrian shrine, as they try to find a safe way to remove them.
He tells them to be strong and stop crying.
The girl’s name is Mary, and she gently strokes her younger sibling’s hair as they lie side by side in what may be the remains of their bed.
The little boy’s name is Alaf, according to his father – an Islamic name that means protection.
Mustafa Zaheer al-Sayed says his wife and three children were sleeping early Monday morning when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook the ground, the largest to hit the region in more than a century of records.
“We felt the ground shaking … and debris started falling on our heads, and we were under the debris for two days,” he said. “We went through, a feeling, a feeling I hope no one has to feel.”
Buried under the rubble, al-Sayed said his family recited the Koran and prayed aloud that someone would find them.
“People listened to us, and we were saved – me, my wife and children. Thanks to God, we are all alive and we thank those who saved us,” he said.
Video shows jubilant locals carrying Maria and Alaf wrapped in blankets from the wreckage.
With each passing hour, hope of finding other families fades in the freezing temperatures that have made survival difficult even for those who managed to escape the dilapidated buildings.
Al-Sayed’s home is in Idlib governorate, a rebel-held area in northern Syria where at least 1,220 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian aid group commonly known as the “White Helmets.” Is.
“The number of dead and injured is expected to rise significantly due to the presence of hundreds of families under the rubble,” the group said on Tuesday.
State news agency SANA reported that at least 812 deaths were confirmed in government-controlled parts of Syria, bringing the total number of Syrian civilians to more than 2,000.
The total death toll from the earthquake on the Turkey-Syria border is now around 8,000 – a figure that aid agencies warn could rise significantly.
Aid has been slow to reach those in need, but even before the earthquake, the United Nations said 70 percent of Syria’s population needed humanitarian aid.
“This tragedy will have a devastating impact on many vulnerable families who are losing their loved ones on a daily basis,” said the UN Resident Coordinator for Syria and Interim Humanitarian Coordinator and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian crisis in a statement. are struggling to provide.” Joint statement on Tuesday
The UN and humanitarian partners say they are currently focusing on immediate needs, including food, shelter, non-food items and medicine.
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