CHENGDU, China -- Last week, we reported on a couple who lost track of their 2-month-old daughter in the scramble to evacuate after the earthquake demolished their village. Now we can report one of the rare happy tales among the lost and missing in this disaster: Baby Anqi has been reunited with her parents.
The family was split up during an airlift of quake survivors from a mountain top in Anxian county, northeast of Chengdu.
|Ryan Pyle / Special to msnbc.com|
|Wei Anrong and baby Anqi|
Anqi's mother, Wei Anrong, was airlifted to a hospital in Chengdu to be treated for injuries. Anqi's father, Ma Hong, handed the infant to a soldier on another helicopter, believing that the child would be wherever her mother had gone. Then he made the grueling trek out of the stricken area with those who were fit enough to walk.
When he finally arrived in Chengdu a week after the May 12 quake, he found his wife in the hospital. She was recovering, but in a state of panic he realized that Anqi had never arrived.
Ma frantically canvassed the many hospitals in Chengdu that were caring for survivors, but he found no trace of the infant. The wounded were being shipped to facilities not just in Chengdu, but also to cities hundreds of miles away, and other sites were caring for children orphaned by the disaster.
Meantime, at a hospital in Qionglai, about 60 miles west of Chengdu, hospital staff who received the wounded from Anqi's helicopter knew only that a baby had been evacuated from the Anxian area and believed she was orphaned as well.
"People there had no name, and no information," said Wei.
A series of cell phone calls between relatives and a savvy volunteer worker who stayed in Anxian finally led to Qionglai, and then to the hospital. There the searchers found Anqi, who was not only healthy but quite spoiled by hospital staff members who doted on their youngest ward.
Over the weekend, baby and parents were reunited in Chengdu. It was a separation of just over a week, but to Wei it was a lifetime.
"I was so worried for so long," says Wei. "But now I feel peaceful."