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World News | Newborn baby rescued from Syria earthquake adopted by aunt


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GINDERIS (Syria), Feb. 20 (AP) — A baby girl born under the rubble of an earthquake-damaged home has left the hospital for her new home, where she was with her aunt’s family on Monday.

The girl had been in hospital hours after the February 6 earthquake. She was released from hospital on Saturday and was adopted by her aunt and uncle, who gave her a new name, Afraa, after her late mother.

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Afraa’s mother, father and four siblings were killed in the earthquake. The day after the baby arrived at the hospital, officials there named her Aya — Arabic for “signal from God.”

Afraa’s story was widely reported in the news, with people all over the world offering to help her, some saying they wanted to adopt her. But relatives who took her in said that no matter how difficult their circumstances, the best place for a child is to be with family.

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On Monday, Afraa was in the care of her uncle Khalil al-Sawadi, whose home was also destroyed by the earthquake, and who now lives with relatives in the northern Syrian town of Jindris. Al-Sawadi and his wife have four daughters and two sons, and Afraa will now live with her cousins.

“She’s one of my kids now. I won’t differentiate between her and my kids. “She’ll be more than my kids because she’ll always remember her dad, mom, and siblings. “

He added that his wife gave birth to a daughter, Attaa, a few days after Afraa was born.

At the hospital in the nearby town of Afrin, the director’s wife has been breastfeeding Afra.

After the girl attracted international attention, Afrin’s judicial officials took Afraa’s case, and some people came to the hospital claiming they were related to her, even though they had different last names from Afraa and her mother.

For days, al-Sawadi feared that someone would kidnap her, and he visited her frequently in the hospital.

Afraa was handed over to her aunt’s family after DNA tests were performed to ensure the girl was biologically related to her aunt, a hospital official said.

Dr Hani Maarouf, who has been caring for her since she was brought, said she was “sad and some nurses were crying” when she was taken out of the hospital. He added that the baby girl was in good health when she was discharged from the hospital.

Rescuers in Jinderis found the dark-haired baby girl more than 10 hours after the quake while digging through the rubble of her parents’ five-storey apartment building.

Al-Sawadi recounted how he rushed out of his home when the earthquake struck to find the nearby building where the Afraa family lived had been reduced to a heap of rubble. al-Sawadi and others in the area said they dug through the rubble for hours in heavy rain before sitting nearby to rest until he got tired.

Not long after, he was called and asked to identify a dead woman found under the rubble. He told those around her that she was his cousin Aphra. Then they started hearing a baby crying and they frantically removed the sand from the baby, whose umbilical cord was still connected to her mother.

Al-Sawadi said he took a razor from his pocket and cut the umbilical cord before handing over the girl to another cousin who took her to a nearby hospital where he was told she was in good health. They drove to another hospital in the nearby town of Afrin, where they were told the hospital was too overcrowded to take any more patients. They continued on to a second hospital, which was also full, before arriving at Children’s Hospital, where she remained until Saturday.

In the chaos after they pulled Afraa from under the rubble, al-Sawadi thought the newborn was a boy and told doctors to name “him” after her late father, Abdullah Turki Mleihan, he said. They later found out it was a girl.

The girl remained in the hospital for nearly two weeks until paperwork to adopt her was finalized, he said.

In the early hours of February 6, a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake with its epicenter in Kharamanmaras province in southeastern Turkey struck, followed by numerous aftershocks. Many communities in southeastern Turkiye and northern Syria were reduced to piles of crumbling concrete and twisted metal. More than 44,000 people have been reported dead and the death toll is expected to rise as search teams find more bodies.

The earthquake destroyed dozens of housing units in the town of Jinderis, where Afraa’s family has lived since 2018.

Afraa’s father, Abdullah Turki Mleihan, was originally from the village of Khsham in the eastern Deir el-Zour province but left in 2014 after the Islamic State group took over the village, Saleh al-Badran, Afraa’s father’s uncle, said earlier this month.

“I’m going to raise her in such a way that she doesn’t feel like she needs anything,” said al-Sawadi, who buys and sells cars. Surrounded by children, al-Sawadi asked if they should give Afraa to someone who would adopt her, and they all said, “No.” (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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