Syrian earthquake miracle child reunited with aunt and uncle

Turkey: 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits southern Hatay province

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Syrian earthquake survivors have adopted a “miracle” baby girl born under the rubble of a collapsed building. Officials named the newborn ‘Aya’ – which means miracle in Arabic – after she made headlines when she was found alive 10 hours after the deadly twin magnitude seven earthquakes pinned her and her family under their apartment building in Jinderis, Aleppo province, on February 6. She has now been renamed Afraa, in honour of her late mother. The only surviving member of her immediate family, Afraa will “keep the memory alive of her father, mother and siblings” as she joins her uncle and his wife.

Khalil al Sawadi helped rescue and bring Afraa to a hospital in Aleppo earlier this month.

Staff were instantly besotted with the tot and named her Aya, meaning “a sign from God” in Arabic.

Mr al Sawadi officially adopted his niece on Saturday and renamed her after her late mother, Afraa, to whom she was still attached via umbilical cord when she was discovered.

The car salesman and his wife, Hala, have added baby Afraa to their blossoming family.

Mr al Sawadi said the child is “one of my children now”.

He added that he would not “differentiate between her and my children” and explained she would keep the memory of her deceased family members alive.

He said: “She will be dearer than my children because she will keep the memory alive of her father, mother and siblings.”

Mr al Sawadi was among the thousands of Syrians who lost their homes in Syria following the earthquakes earlier this month.

He decided to welcome Afraa into his family of six – which includes four girls and two boys – because he felt she should stay with relatives.

The salesman promised that, despite his circumstances, he would raise his newly adopted daughter “in a way that she will not feel in need for anything”.

The hospital in which the newborn stayed as she recovered was inundated with adoption offers earlier this month when news emerged of her unique circumstances.

But she was also briefly moved following reports that staff feared she could be kidnapped or used to perpetuate adoption fraud.

A source at the Afrin Health Directorate told the BBC there was a violent incident at the building on February 16.

A male nurse and two armed men allegedly beat the hospital’s manager, warranting the response.

Health directorate chief Dr Ahmad Hajj Hassan denied claims the decision to move the baby was a reaction to a failed kidnapping.

He said the issue was “wholly internal” and “had no connection whatsoever with the baby”.

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