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Photos: Newborn saved from rubble in the quake-hit Syrian town

Residents digging through a collapsed building in a northwest Syrian town discovered a crying infant whose mother appears to have given birth to her while buried underneath the rubble from this week’s devastating earthquake, relatives and a doctor said Tuesday.

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

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

The baby’s body temperature had fallen 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 during the birth and must have died soon after, Maarouf said. He estimated the baby was born several hours before being found, given the amount her temperature had dropped. If the girl had been born just before the quake, she wouldn’t have survived so many hours in the cold, he said.

“Had the girl been left for an hour more, 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 apartment building, but the structure collapsed on them. Their bodies were found near the building’s entrance, said Sleiman, who arrived at the scene just after the newborn was discovered.

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

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

Monday’s pre-dawn 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by multiple aftershocks, caused widespread destruction across southern Turkey and northern Syria.

| via Associated Press

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