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Newborn baby reportedly rescued from earthquake rubble in Syria

Posted at 3:37 PM, Feb 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A baby girl has been reportedly rescued from the rubble of her home in northern Syria following Monday's massive earthquake.

Her umbilical cord was still attached to her mother when she was found, a relative told Agence France-Presse. Her mother is believed to have died after giving birth.

"We heard a voice while we were digging," cousin Khalil al-Suwadi told the AFP on Tuesday. "We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact), so we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital."

Survivors are still being pulled from the rubble in Syria and Turkey, where a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck early on Monday morning local time.

Rescue efforts have been complicated by freezing conditions, blocked roads, damaged infrastructure and several violent aftershocks.

The rescued newborn is now receiving treatment at a children's hospital in the town of Afrin, where pediatrician Hani Maarouf told the AFP that she is stable but arrived with bruises, lacerations and hypothermia.

She is believed to be the sole survivor of her immediate family, according to Suwadi. They lived in a five-story apartment building that was leveled by the quake.

At least 1,832 people are known to have died in Syria, where the sudden destruction is also compounding trauma and hardship for families still suffering the effects of a decade-long civil war.

Around 4 million people in northern Syria were already displaced and relying on humanitarian support as a result of war, according to James Elder, spokesman for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. This winter had been particularly tough due to the cold winter and a cholera outbreak.

Hospitals in the country have been overwhelmed as victims seek help, with some facilities damaged by the quake. There is particular concern about the spread of illness, especially among children.