Newborn rescued in good health from rubble in earthquake-hit Syria

BEIRUT (AP) – A baby girl was born under the rubble of her family’s home in northern Syria was in good health Monday after last week’s devastating earthquake and was being breastfed by the wife of the director of the hospital where she is being cared for, her doctor said.

According to her great-uncle Saleh al-Badran, the child, who is being called Aya – Arabic for “a sign of God” – by hospital workers, may be able to leave the hospital as early as Tuesday or Wednesday. He said the baby’s paternal aunt, who recently gave birth and survived the earthquake, will raise him.

The newborn’s mother died after giving birth after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. Her father and four siblings also died in the earthquake.

dr Hani Maarouf, a pediatrician at Cihan Hospital in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, told The Associated Press that the hospital director’s wife was breastfeeding the little girl.

“We stopped all the medications we gave Aya and now she is breastfed when she needs it,” Maarouf said by phone from Afrin.

Maarouf said local police are guarding the hospital to make sure nobody tries to kidnap the child after a number of people falsely claiming to be her relatives surfaced.

Rescue workers in the northern Syrian town of Jinderis discovered the dark-haired girl more than 10 hours after the Feb. 6 earthquake as they were digging through the rubble of the five-story apartment building where her parents lived.

Buried under the concrete, the baby was still connected to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, by her umbilical cord. The baby was taken to the hospital in nearby Afrin, where he has been cared for ever since.

The devastating quake was followed by a series of tremors that hit southeastern Turkey and northern Syria reduced much of the cities and towns inhabited by millions to concrete fragments and twisted metal. More than 35,000 people have been killed, a number expected to rise significantly as search teams find more bodies.

The earthquake destroyed dozens of housing units in the town of Jinderis, where Aya’s family has lived since 2018.

Aya’s father, Abdullah Turki Mleihan, was originally from the village of Khsham in eastern Deir el-Zour province but left in 2014 after the Islamic State group seized their village, said al-Badran, an uncle of Aya’s father.


Associated Press writer Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.

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