Syrian baby who survived deadly Turkey earthquake under rubbles 6 months ago, surrounded by adoptive family

Baby girl Syrian born found under the rubble of her house destroyed by a deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria six months ago is healthy, loves her foster family and loves to smile with strangers.

Black-haired baby Afraa survived 10 hours under the rubble after the February 6 earthquake that killed her parents and four siblings in the town of Jinderis, northern Syria. When found, her umbilical cord was still attached to her mother.

Her story captivated the world at the time, and people all over the world offered to adopt her. After spending a few days in a hospital in northern Syria, Afraa was released and put in the custody of her paternal aunt and her husband, along with their five daughters and two sons.

The girl’s adoptive father, Khalil al-Sawadi, said Afraa was released to her aunt’s family a few days after DNA tests were carried out to make sure the girl and her aunt were related by blood.

On Saturday, baby Afraa was happily swinging on a red swing hanging from the ceiling as al-Sawadi pushed her back and forth.

“This girl is my daughter. She is just like my children,” al-Sawadi said, sitting cross-legged with Afraa on her lap.

Al-Sawadi said he spent the day in the rented apartment but by evening the whole family went to the tent to spend the night, as his children were still injured by the earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in southern Turkey and northern Syria. .

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 4,500 deaths and 10,400 injuries have been reported in northwestern Syria due to the earthquake.

He estimated that 43% of the injured were women and girls while 20% of the injured were children between the ages of 5 and 14. A magnitude 7.9 earthquake pounded the city on 6 February, followed by several aftershocks.

Among the hardest hit areas, rebel-held northwest Syria is home to some 4.5 million people, many of whom have been displaced by the 12-year conflict that has left half of million people died.

Al-Sawadi said that when Afraa grows up, he will tell her how she was saved and how her parents, siblings were killed in the terrible earthquake. He said if he doesn’t tell her, his wife or kids will.

The day after the baby arrived at the hospital, officials named her Aya – Arabic for “sign from God”. After her aunt’s family adopted her, she was given the new name Afraa, after her late mother.

A few days after Afraa was born, her adoptive mother gave birth to a daughter, Attaa. Since then, she has breastfed her two children, al-Sawadi said.

“Afraa drinks milk and sleeps most of the day,” al-Sawadi said.

Al-Sawadi says she has received many offers to live oversees, but he refused because he wanted to stay in Syria, where Afraa’s parents lived and were killed.

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

“the family is happy with her, because she reminds us of the parents and siblings,” al-Sawadi said. “She looks a lot like her father and sister Nawara.”

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