Syria earthquake: Newborn baby and toddler pulled from rubble in Jinderis, near Turkish border

JINDÉRIS, Syria — Residents digging into a collapsed building in a town in northwestern Syria discovered a crying baby whose mother appeared to have given birth as he was buried under the rubble of this week’s devastating earthquake, said Tuesday relatives and a doctor.

The newborn girl’s umbilical cord was still connected to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, who had died, they said. The baby was the only member of his family to survive Monday’s building collapse in the small town of Jinderis, near the Turkish border, Ramadan Sleiman, a relative, told The Associated Press.

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The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck before dawn on Monday, followed by multiple aftershocks, caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria. Thousands of people have been killed, with the toll rising as more bodies are discovered. But spectacular rescues have also taken place. Elsewhere in Jinderis, a young girl was found alive, buried in concrete under the rubble of her home.

The newborn was rescued on Monday afternoon, more than 10 hours after the quake. After rescuers dug her up, a neighbor cut the cord, and she and others rushed the baby to a children’s hospital in nearby Afrin, where she was kept in an incubator. said the doctor treating the baby, Dr. Hani Maarouf.

Video of the rescue circulating on social media shows the moments after the baby was pulled from the rubble, as a man lifts her, her umbilical cord still dangling, and rushes as another man throws a blanket at her to wrap it.

The baby’s body temperature had dropped to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and she had bruises, including a large one on her back, but she is in stable condition, he said.

Abu Hadiya must have been conscious at birth and must have died soon after, Maarouf said. He estimated that the baby was born several hours before he was found, given the drop in his temperature. If the girl had been born just before the quake, she wouldn’t have survived so many hours in the cold, he said.

“If the girl had been left for another hour, she would have died,” he said.

When the earthquake hit before dawn on Monday, Abu Hadiya, her husband and four children apparently tried to rush out of their building, but the structure collapsed on top of them. Their bodies were found near the building’s entrance, said Sleiman, who arrived at the scene shortly after the newborn was found.

“She was found in front of her mother’s legs,” he said. “After the dust and stones were removed, the girl was found alive.”

Maarouf said the baby weighed 3.175 kilograms (7 pounds), an average weight for a newborn, so he was delivered almost to full term. “Our only concern is the bruise on her back, and we need to see if there is a problem with her spinal cord,” he said, saying she was moving her legs and arms normally.

Jinderis, located in the rebel enclave in northwest Syria, was hit hard by the quake, with dozens of buildings collapsing.

Abu Hadiya and his family were among millions of Syrians who fled to rebel-held territory from other parts of the country. They were from the village of Khsham in eastern Deir el-Zour province, but left in 2014 after their village was taken over by the Islamic State group, said a relative who identified himself as Saleh al. -Badran.

In 2018, the family moved to Jinderis after the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army, which oversees several insurgent groups, captured the town from US-backed Kurdish fighters, Sleiman said.

On Tuesday, Abu Hadiya and the girl’s father, Abdullah Turki Mleihan, along with their four other children were laid to rest in a cemetery on the outskirts of Jinderis.

Back inside the city, rescue operations continued in their building in the hope of finding survivors.

The city experienced another dramatic rescue on Monday night, when a toddler was pulled alive from the wreckage of a collapsed building. Video from the White Helmets, the area’s emergency service, shows a rescuer digging through crushed concrete amid twisted metal until the little girl, named Nour, appears. The daughter, still half-buried, looks up dazedly as they tell her, “Daddy’s here, don’t be scared. … Talk to your dad, talk.”

A lifeguard took her head in her hands and gently wiped the dust around her eyes before she was removed.

The earthquake caused further havoc in the opposition-held area centered on Syria’s Idlib province, which was already scarred by years of war and strained by the influx of displaced people from the civil war that started in 2011.

Monday’s earthquake killed hundreds of people in the area, and the toll continued to rise, with hundreds still lost under the rubble. The earthquake completely or partially toppled more than 730 buildings and damaged thousands of others in the territory, according to the White Helmets, the name given to the civil defense of the region.

The White Helmets have years of experience in extracting victims from buildings crushed by bombardment from Russian warplanes or Syrian government forces. An earthquake is a new disaster for them.

“These are two disasters – a disaster that has been going on for 12 years and for which the criminal has not been held responsible, and this one is a natural disaster,” said White Helmets deputy leader Munir Mustafa.

When asked if there was a difference between rescue work during the earthquake and during the war, he replied: “We cannot compare death with death… What we are witnessing today is death upon death.


Mroue reported from Beirut.

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