x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abandoned baby girl found in pool cubicle

Woman and youngster hear infant's cries in Al Ain hotel changing room and break open door to find child wrapped in a scarf

AL AIN // A newborn girl has been found abandoned in a hotel swimming-pool changing room. The healthy infant was locked in a cubicle and was discovered by guests at Danat Al Ain Hotel and Resort on Thursday night.

Police and emergency services were contacted and the child, thought to be only a few days old, was taken to Al Ain Hospital for treatment.

Three sisters, aged 11 to 19, walked into the women's locker room at 6pm to change into their swimsuits and found one of the two changing rooms locked.

"We waited for someone to come out of the changing room, but no one did," said the 19-year-old.

"After a few minutes we knocked on the door but no one answered, so we all changed in the room that was unlocked.

"My sisters were playing in the pool area and kept going back and forth between the pool and locker rooms for two hours. They noticed that the changing room was still locked. We thought it was closed for maintenance or something."

At about 8.30pm, the 11-year-old went back into the locker room, where an American woman who was also getting changed. They heard a cry from inside the locked cubicle. "That's when we all realised that there was a baby in there," the eldest sister said.

"The American woman started knocking on the door, then looked underneath but didn't see any legs. That's when she broke down the door and rescued the baby."

The baby girl had been wrapped in a scarf and was cold. The American woman wrapped her in a towel and called security, who called the police.

"The baby looked like it was Chinese, Japanese or Filipino. It was so small that it could fit in a purse.

"I can't imagine how someone could just leave their baby like that. The woman who left it there couldn't have had any humanity in her. I hope the police catch her and I think they will because there is a security camera there."

Al Ain Police said patrol officers, criminal investigation detectives, the forensics unit and an ambulance had been sent to the hotel when the baby was found.

"The baby appeared to be a newborn female that was in good health. We are conducting a criminal investigation to locate the person who abandoned her," a police source said.

It is believed the child is only a few days old as the umbilical cord was still attached.

There were no security guards near the pool area, only lifeguards. The hotel's management declined to comment.

The abandonment of babies is an increasing problem, particularly in the Northern Emirates.

Police have occasionally been successful in finding and apprehending the parents.

Last month two children were found abandoned within a week in Sharjah.

On June 3, a baby boy was discovered dumped in the Azra area of Sharjah, just two days after a baby girl was abandoned nearby.

Both babies were taken to the children's ward of Al Qassimi Hospital for treatment.

Earlier in the year, a foetus was left aboard an Etihad Airlines flight that had landed in the Philippines.

In most cases of baby abandonment, the cause is that the baby was born out of wedlock, which is a criminal offence.

ealghalib@thenational.ae