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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 15:27 GMT
Tsunami 'Baby 81' goes back home
Jenita Jeyarajah with her son Abhilasha
Mother and baby were reunited in a brief courtroom ceremony
A Sri Lankan baby found in the debris left by the tsunami has been returned to his parents.

Four-month-old Abhilasha, known as "Baby 81", was confirmed as the son of Murugupillai and Jenita Jeyarajah after DNA tests.

Eight other couples had wanted to take the child.

He was handed over to his parents in a brief court ceremony, after which the family left for their temporary home in the eastern town of Kalmunai.

On the way, the family stopped at a Hindu temple where they broke coconuts to fulfill their vows for the baby's return.

"We are very happy, but at the same time feel sad that a lot of people were killed on that day," Murugupillai Jeyarajah told reporters of the tsunami that killed nearly 31,000 people in Sri Lanka.

Legal claim

The family lost all their belongings in the tsunami and have been living in a camp close to Kalmunai.

We are very happy, but at the same time feel sad that a lot of people were killed on that day
Murugupillai Jeyarajah

Earlier this month, the couple were arrested and then released on bail after they were accused of trying to snatch the boy from hospital.

The Jeyarajahs, the only couple to file a legal claim, were angry at a court ruling ordering the DNA tests.

Before the ruling, they had said they were confident of being united with the baby, whom they maintained was their son born on 19 October 2004.

The couple said he was separated from them when the tsunami struck. A neighbour rescued the boy from under a pile of rubbish.

Baby 81 was given his name because he was the 81st person admitted to the Kalmunai hospital on 26 December.

The tsunami killed more than 200,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

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 fund, Unicef.


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See pictures of Abhilasha, 'Baby 81'



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