'She is one of my children now': Newborn saved from Syria earthquake adopted by aunt and uncle

Khalil al-Sawadi holds Afraa, a baby girl who was born under the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey, in the town of Jinderis, Aleppo province, Syria Credit: AP

A Syrian baby girl who was born under the rubble of her family's collapsed home has been adopted by her aunt and uncle after her parents and four siblings were all killed in the earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria two weeks ago.

The girl had been at the hospital since hours after the February 6 earthquake until she was discharged on Saturday into the care of her aunt and uncle.

The hospital workers gave her the name Aya - Arabic for "a sign from God" - but her new family called her Afraa, after her late mother.

Afraa’s story has been widely shared and people from around the world have offered to help her, with some saying they would like to adopt her.

However, the relatives who took her in said the best place for the infant is with family.

Afraa was found in the rubble with her umbilical cord still attached. Credit: AP
The baby girl was the only surviving member of her immediate family. Credit: AP

On Monday, Afraa was being cared for by her uncle, Khalil al-Sawadi, who is now living with relatives in the town of Jinderis in northern Syria after his home was also destroyed in the earthquake.

Al-Sawadi and his wife have four daughters and two sons and now Afraa will be living with her cousins.

"She is one of my children now. I will not differentiate between her and my children," al-Sawadi, who is also a cousin of the newborn's parents, said.

Afraa left the hospital and has gone to her new home with her paternal aunt's family Credit: AP

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

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

Judicial officials in Afrin had taken over the case of Afraa after the girl drew international attention and some people came to the hospital claiming they are related to her although they had different family names than Afraa and her mother.

The quake has left more than 44,000 dead. Credit: AP

For days, al-Sawadi was worried that someone might kidnap her and he visited her frequently at the hospital.

A hospital official said Afraa was handed over to her aunt's family days after a DNA test was conducted to make sure the girl and her aunt are biologically related.

"It was sad and some nurses wept" when she was taken from the hospital, said Dr. Hani Maarouf who had taken care of Afraa since she was brought to the facility.

He added that the baby girl was in very good health when she was released.

Rescue workers in Jinderis discovered the dark-haired baby girl more than 10 hours after the quake as they were digging through the wreckage of the five-story apartment building where her parents lived.

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Al-Sawadi recounted how he rushed out of his home when the earthquake happened and found that the nearby building where Afraa's family lived had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Along with others from the area, al-Sawadi said they dug through the rubble in heavy rain for hours until he grew tired and sat to rest nearby.

Soon after the child's mother was found in the rubble and al-Sawadi helped identify her, then they started hearing a child crying and frantically removed the sand that covered the baby, whose umbilical cord was still connected to her mother.

The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in south east Turkey has left more than 44,000 dead.

On Monday a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the same region leaving three dead and more than 200 injured.