Middle East

Baby born in Syria earthquake who lost whole immediate family is finally reunited with aunt and uncle

A baby born under the rubble of a collapsed building in the aftermath of the powerful earthquakes in Syria has been adopted by her aunt and uncle.

The “miracle” baby, who was initially named Aya – Arabic for “a sign from god” – was found with her umbilical cord in the northern Syrian town of Jinderis, more than 10 hours after the quake hit.

Her mother died after giving birth while her father and siblings were killed in the quake.

The child was rushed to a hospital in Afrin where she was taken care of before being adopted by her extended family. The baby was given a new name, Afraa, after her late mother.

Hundreds of people had offered to adopt the baby after her story was widely reported across platforms. Since then several people have shown up falsely claiming to be the infant’s relative and gunmen stormed the hospital last week in an attempt to kidnap the infant.

The child was discharged on Monday after the hospital conducted a DNA test to confirm the aunt is biologically related. The baby was in good health, doctors said.

“She is one of my children now. I will not differentiate between her and my children,” said the child’s uncle Khalil al-Sawadi.

Mr Al-Sawadi and his wife share four daughters and two sons and now Afraa will be living with her cousins. The family was living with their relatives in Jinderis after their home was also destroyed in the devastating quake.

“She will be dearer than my children because she will keep the memory alive of her father, mother and siblings,” the uncle told the Associated Press.

He added that his wife gave birth to a girl just days after Afraa was born.

Mr Al-Sawadi recalled that he was present at the spot when the child was pulled out from under the rubble and was worried that someone might kidnap her.

“It was sad and some nurses wept” when she was taken from the hospital, said Dr Hani Maarouf who had taken care of Afraa since she was brought to the facility. While in the hospital, the child was breastfed by the director’s wife.

Two devastating earthquakes over 7 magnitudes struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February. More than 44,000 people have been reported dead, with the toll expected to rise following Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck the region.


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