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'Get me out of here ... I'll be your servant': Trapped girl's plea to rescuers from rubble of Syrian home

CNN 2/8/2023 Raja Razek

Two children lie wedged between concrete, their heads pinned to one side, as rescuers reassure them that help has arrived 36 hours after a quake destroyed their home in northern Syria.

“Get me out of here, I’ll do anything for you,” the older child whispers. “I’ll be your servant.”

A rescuer replies, “No, no.”

Video shows rescuers squatting in the rubble of the children’s home in Besnaya-Bseineh, a small village near Haram, Syria, as they try to figure out a safe way to remove them.

They tell them to be strong and not to cry.

The girl’s name is Mariam, and she gently strokes the hair on her younger sibling’s head as they lie squashed together in what could be the remains of their bed.

The younger child’s name is Ilaaf, according to their father – an Islamic name that means protection.

Mustafa Zuhir Al-Sayed says his wife and three children were sleeping in the early hours of Monday when the earth shook with a 7.8-magnitude quake, the biggest to hit the region in more than a century of records.

“We felt the ground shaking … and rubble began falling over our head, and we stayed two days under the rubble,” he said. “We went through, a feeling, a feeling I hope no one has to feel.”

Pinned under rubble, Al-Sayed said his family recited the Quran and prayed out loud that someone would find them.

“People heard us, and we were rescued – me, my wife and the children. Thank God, we are all alive and we thank those who rescued us,” he said.

Video shows locals cheering as Mariam and Ilaaf are carried from the rubble wrapped in blankets. The children were taken to hospital, where they’re receiving medical care.

© Provided by CNN Rescuers celebrate the rescue of Al-Sayed's family but many others are still believed to be trapped under quake rubble in Syria. - Obtained by CNN

With each hour, hope of finding other families fades in freezing temperatures that have made survival harder even for those who managed to escape the crumbled buildings.

The Al-Sayed’s home is in Idlib governorate, a rebel-controlled area in northern Syria, where at least 1,220 people have died, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian aid group more commonly known as the “White Helmets.”

The group said Tuesday the number of dead and injured is “expected to rise significantly due to the presence of hundreds of families under the rubble.”

At least 812 deaths have been confirmed in government-controlled parts of Syria, state-run news agency SANA reported, taking the total Syrian toll beyond 2,000.

The total number of dead from the quake across the Turkey-Syrian border is now almost 8,000 – a number that aid agencies have warned is likely to rise significantly.

Aid is slowly reaching those in need, but even before the quake, the United Nations said 70% of Syria’s population needed humanitarian assistance.

“This tragedy will have a devastating impact on many vulnerable families who struggle to provide for their loved ones on a daily basis,” the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis said in a 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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CNN’s Ruba Alhenawi contributed to this report.

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