A baby girl born beneath the rubble of her family’s collapsed home in Syria has been adopted by an aunt and uncle after her parents were killed in the devastating earthquake. The tiny survivor had been in hospital since the February 6 disaster but has finally been discharged and taken to her new home.
Hospital staff had named her Aya – Arabic for “a sign from God” – but she has now been given the name Afraa, after her late mother.
Her uncle Khalil al-Sawadi said: “She is one of my children now. I will not differentiate between her and my children.”
Afraa’s miraculous story of survival has been widely shared by media outlets around the world.
Born in Jinderis, northern Syria, Afraa’s mother was killed in the earthquake, along with her father and four siblings.
Rescuers found the dark-haired baby girl more than 10 hours after the earthquake as they dug through the wreckage of the five-story apartment building where her parents had lived.
Khalil recalled how he rushed out of his home nearby to dig through the rubble, where someone called him over to identify a dead woman, who was his cousin and his wife’s sister, Afraa.
Then, they heard crying and found the baby, whose umbilical cord was still connected to her mother.
Car salesman Khalil said he took a razor from his pocket and cut the cord before handing it to the girl
They then rushed her to the hospital. The first two were full with other earthquake victims, but eventually, they reached a children’s hospital where Afraa was kept for two weeks.
Khalil, who is living with relatives in Jinderis after his home was also destroyed, has four daughters and two sons, meaning Afraa will be living with her cousins.
He said: “She will be dearer than my children because she will keep the memory alive of her father, mother and siblings. I will raise her in a way that she will not feel in need for anything.”
He added that just days after Afraa was born, his wife gave birth to a daughter, Attaa.
More than 44,000 people have been reported dead after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and the toll is expected to rise as search teams continue to find more bodies.
Meanwhile, a new 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck on Monday, with its epicenter in Turkey’s Hatay province.
Officials said six were killed and 294 injured.