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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 16:53 GMT
Sri Lanka's 'Baby 81' to go home
A nurse holds Baby 81 in hospital in Kalmunai
The baby will be released when he is well enough
Sri Lanka's "Baby 81", who grabbed headlines for being claimed by nine couples after December's tsunami, is to be reunited with his family soon.

A court has ruled the four-month-old boy should be returned when he is well enough to leave hospital.

However, police denied there had been arguments over the child and said only one couple had a legal claim.

"A lot of people showed interest but they never said they were the parents," police chief WC Wijetilleka told AFP.

Mr Wijetilleka said a neighbour had found the boy under a pile of rubbish in the eastern town of Kalmunai on 26 December.

"The man gave the child to the Kalmunai hospital. The parents who also survived the waves later found the child."


Police inspector Wijetilleka said the media interest - the New York Times called the child a "celebrated orphan" - probably stemmed from the child's miraculous escape.

He said the parents had been positively identified and had approached the court.

"We are convinced they are the parents. Only one couple claimed the child. No one else has come forward to make a legal claim."

A local police officer told AFP there would be an investigation into how the affair was reported.

There were reports at the time that some women threatened violence in their claims for the boy.

More than 30,000 people were killed by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Children are believed to make up about 40% of the dead.

The tsunami left about 1,000 orphans in the country, according to data quoted by the UN's children's charity, Unicef.



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