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A newborn baby girl was found alive underneath a collapsed building in Syria after devastating earthquakes rocked the Middle East Monday. Her umbilical cord was still attached to her mother, who died during the natural disaster.
Relatives of the baby and a doctor told the Associated Press that it appeared the girl’s mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, gave birth under the rubble before she died. The newborn was the only member of her immediate family to survive the earthquake, according to a relative.
“We heard a voice while we were digging,” cousin Khalil al-Suwadi told the AFP, CNN reported. “We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact), so we cut it and my cousin took her to [the] hospital.”
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The baby girl is being treated at a hospital in Afrin, Syria, and is in stable condition after sustaining bruises, lacerations, and hypothermia. The baby’s body temperature reportedly dropped to 95 degrees after her mother gave birth to her. Dr. Hani Maarouf, who treated the baby, estimated that she was found just hours after being born and would not have survived much longer in the cold temperatures.
“Had the girl been left for an hour more, she would have died,” he said, according to the AP.
The baby’s parents and four siblings reportedly attempted to flee the building as the earthquake hit the northwest Syrian town, but all were crushed and died under the rubble. Their bodies were found near the building’s entrance, according to a relative.
More than 4,000 people have died following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked parts of Syria and Turkey early Monday morning. A 7.5-magnitude aftershock followed later that afternoon. Around 1,500 have been found dead in Syria, and nearly 3,000 more are dead in Turkey as rescue workers continue to search for survivors following the worst natural disaster to hit the region since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake that killed more than 30,000 people.
The region is situated on major fault lines. In the area affected by the earthquake, the dire situation is compounded by the presence of millions of refugees displaced by years-long civil war in Syria, who were taking refuge on both sides of Turkey and Syria’s border.
The U.S. promised aid to the devastated countries.
“My Administration has been working closely with our NATO Ally Turkiye, and I authorized an immediate U.S. response. At my direction, senior American officials reached out immediately to their Turkish counterparts to coordinate any and all needed assistance,” President Joe Biden said Monday. “Our teams are deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and address the needs of those injured and displaced by the earthquake. U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria.”
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.