COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The infant dubbed "Baby 81" (search) after being found in the debris of Asia's tsunami (search) and the couple desperately trying to claim him underwent DNA tests (search) Wednesday that could resolve a case that has come to symbolize families torn apart by the disaster.
Nine women initially claimed the 3-month-old boy after he was found caked in mud amid corpses left by the Dec. 26 tsunami, but only one couple — Murugupillai and Jenita Jeyarajah — formally pressed their case in court.
Still, a judge ordered the baby kept in a hospital until his parentage could be proven genetically, and it could be several days before Wednesday's test results reach the court. The Jeyarajahs, who lost their home and family records in the tsunami, have spent seven weeks trying to claim the boy.
The baby arrived Wednesday morning at the laboratory in the capital, Colombo, under police escort following a bumpy nine-hour journey in an ambulance from the eastern town of Kalmunai. The clamor of photographers awoke him and the infant cried as a nurse carried him inside.
The couple, who say their son's name is Abilass, arrived minutes later.
"When they saw the infant, they started crying," said Mohammed Nazir, a court registrar who accompanied the baby. "I reminded them that they should remain calm and allow the procedure ordered by the court to be completed."
Inside the clinic, medics drew blood from all three, and Jenita Jeyarajah was allowed to hold the boy on her lap for a few minutes, Nazir said.
The baby was missing one of his red shoes when he was brought back to the ambulance for his return trip. Asleep again, he was wrapped in a pink towel and held by a nurse who sat next to a policeman with a rifle.
Minutes later the couple emerged.
"I am happy, I am happy," Murugupillai Jeyarajah shouted.
K. Sivanantharaja, the chief nurse escorting Baby 81, said the boy had behaved well during his overnight trip to the capital.
"He took five bottles of milk during the journey and did not make much trouble," said K. Sivanantharaja, the chief nurse. "He is such a nice baby."
Maya B. Gunasekera, chief executive of the Genetech Molecular Diagnostics laboratory, told The Associated Press the DNA test results would take at least two days. They must be sent by registered mail to the judge, which could take an additional two to three days.
Judge M.P. Mohaideen ordered the DNA testing during a hearing Feb. 2 and scheduled April 20 to review the results — a delay that seemed like an eternity to the couple, who later barged into the hospital caring for the child to try to reach him.
Two hospital employees claimed they were injured in the melee, and the Jeyarajahs were briefly detained. A day later, Mohaideen suggested the results could be announced sooner.
Gunasekera said the company's tests can determine parentage with 99.9 percent certainty.