BEIRUT – A baby girl born under the rubble of her family's home in northern Syria after last week’s devastating earthquake was in good health Monday and being breast-fed by the wife of the director of the hospital where she is being cared for, her doctor said.
The infant, named Aya — Arabic for “a sign from God" — by hospital workers, may be able to leave the hospital as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, according to her great-uncle, Saleh al-Badran. He said the baby’s paternal aunt, who recently gave birth and survived the quake, will raise her.
The newborn's mother died after giving birth to her in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. Her father and four siblings were also killed in the quake.
Dr. Hani Maarouf, a pediatrician at Cihan Hospital in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, told The Associated Press that the wife of the hospital’s director has been breast-feeding the baby girl.
“We have stopped all the medicines that we were giving Aya and now she is being breast-fed when she needs,” Maarouf said by telephone from Afrin.
Maarouf said local policemen were standing guard at the hospital to make sure that no one tries to kidnap the child after a series of people showed up falsely claiming to be her relatives.
Rescue workers in the northern Syrian town of Jinderis discovered the dark-haired baby girl more than 10 hours after the Feb. 6 quake hit, as they were digging through the wreckage of the five-story apartment building where her parents lived.
Buried under the concrete, the baby still was connected by her umbilical cord to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya. The baby was rushed to the hospital in nearby Afrin where she has been cared for since.
The devastating quake followed by a series of tremors that struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria reduced much of the towns and cities inhabited by millions to fragments of concrete and twisted metal. More than 35,000 people were killed, a toll expected to rise considerably as search teams find more bodies.
The earthquake destroyed dozens of housing units in the town of Jinderis where Aya’s family had been living 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 captured their village, said al-Badran, an uncle of Aya's father.
Associated Press writer Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.