In the rubble of a house in Jadairis, a town in Syria that was hit hard by Monday's earthquake, rescuers found a live newborn baby still attached by the umbilical cord to his dead mother.
The little girl is the sole survivor of a family whose members were all killed when the four-story apartment building they lived in collapsed.
In this town, on the border with Turkey, rescuers recovered the body of the infant's father, Abdullah Mleihan, Aafra's mother, three of her siblings, her brother and her aunt.
“We were looking for Abu Rudayna (Abdallah's last name) and his family, first we found his sister, then his wife, then Abu Rudayna. They were all close to each other," explained a close family friend, Khalil Sawadi.
"Then we heard a sound when we were digging (…) we pulled up the dirt and found this little one, thank God," he added.
The infant was still attached by the umbilical cord to its mother. "We cut him open and my cousin took the baby to the hospital," Sawadi continued.
In a video circulating on social media, a man is seen holding a naked infant, covered in dust, with its umbilical cord dangling in the rubble. At a time when the temperature is close to zero degrees Celsius, another throws a blanket to cover the newborn.
"Time is pressing"
The infant was taken to the hospital in the nearby city of Afrin.
In the meantime, the rescuers spent hours trying with meager means to extricate the bodies of the remaining family members. They were placed in a relative's house, covered with cloths of various colors so that they could be distinguished, pending burial.
The family had fled Deir Ezzor province, further east, believing they would find safety in Jadairis, a town controlled since 2018 by Turkish forces and pro-Turkish rebel groups.
About 50 houses collapsed in this northeastern Syrian city due to Monday's earthquake, as it is relatively close to the epicenter. The streets of the city are full of rubble.
The earthquake has killed more than 5.000 people in Turkey and Syria. Only in the rebel-held areas of Syria, where aid has not arrived, around 800 people have been killed so far.
According to the White Helmets, the rescuers active in these areas, more than 200 buildings have completely collapsed. This group of rescuers today called on international humanitarian organizations to help these forgotten, affected areas. "Time is pressing. "Hundreds of people are still trapped under the ruins," he said.