Syria family takes in baby born under quake rubble

Born an orphan under the rubble in north Syria after a devastating earthquake, Afraa Al-Suwadi has been given a new lease on life when relatives took her in. Since footage of her rescue in the town of Jindayris went viral on social media, Suwadi’s story has captivated a grieving nation and made international headlines as Syria’s “miracle baby”.

The sole survivor in her immediate family of the February 6 quake, relatives had pulled her from the wreckage still tied to her deceased mother by the umbilical cord. “She is my soul, my life, and my whole world,” her uncle Khalil Al-Suwadi told AFP from his tent in the town, cradling the newborn.

The baby, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a red hat with a little bow, was given her mother’s name, Afraa — one of more than 45,000 people killed across war-ravaged Syria and neighbouring Turkey in the 7.8-magnitude quake. Khalil al-Suwadi took in the baby about a week and a half after she had been admitted to hospital in rebel-held Jindayris, near the Turkish border.

Medical staff performed a DNA test to ensure they were indeed relatives. “The day they told us we could have her I was overjoyed, it was indescribable,” said the uncle, who had helped rescue her. Khalil al-Suwadi is married to a sister of the baby’s late father, who was also his cousin.

“This child is a living memory of her father, mother and siblings” who perished, he said. One day, when baby Afraa is older, he said he would tell her the family’s story. When he laid her on one of the mattresses strewn across the flimsy tent the family had moved into after the quake, his daughters gathered around the baby, embracing and kissing her. The uncle said his wife gave birth a few days ago but he has devoted much of his time to take care of Afraa. “She is now like one of my daughters.”— AFP

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