Vol. 5 Num 247 Thu. February 03, 2005  

DNA test for tsunami baby

A Sri Lankan court has ordered a DNA test on a "miracle baby" who survived December's tsunami to determine who his parents are.

The order upset a couple who say the child is their son. "Baby 81" was found alive under a pile of debris after the deadly tsunami.

Nine couples have claimed him as their son although police say only one couple, the Jeyarajahs, have made a formal legal claim.

Murugupillai Jeyarajah and his wife Junitha broke down in tears after the order was announced in a packed courtroom in the eastern town of Kalmunai.

"There is no need for a DNA test, this is our son," Mrs Jeyarajah said as her husband threatened to kill himself. "This is not justice."

The couple and a large crowd of supporters then marched to the local hospital where the baby has been kept, demanding to see the child.

Earlier the Jeyarajahs said they were confident of being united with the four-month-old boy.

The court had ordered two weeks ago that the baby be handed to his parents as soon he was well enough. Doctors said then he was too ill to be discharged from hospital.

The couple visited a Hindu temple before arriving at court, reports say.

"We could not sleep the whole night. We were talking about our baby," the Associated Press quoted Junitha Jeyarajah as saying.

"We have told our God [to] please give us back our baby."

"Baby 81" - so named because he was the 81st patient to be admitted to the hospital on the day the tsunami struck - has become a visible symbol of the disaster that hit Sri Lanka and other Asian countries on 26 December.

A nurse tries to get back a baby who survived December's tsunami disaster as Junitha Jeyarajah, a woman claiming to be the baby's mother grabbed the child after breaking into the hospital in Kalmunai yesterday. PHOTO: AFP