A newborn boy is recovering in a Chinese hospital after being rescued from a sewage pipe below a squat toilet by firefighters, state media reports. The firefighters had to saw out an L-shaped section, delicately dismantling it to free the cocooned baby, who greeted the rescuers with cries.
“Fortunately the baby survived. But the person [who abandoned him] is still suspected of attempted murder,” said an unnamed police officer, according to official news portal hangzhou.com.cn.
Police are treating the case as an attempted homicide, and are looking for the mother and anyone else involved in the incident, a report said.
A video of the rescue was broadcast widely on Chinese news programmes and websites late on Monday and Tuesday.
A tenant heard the baby’s sounds in the public restroom of a residential building in Zhejiang province in eastern China on Saturday and notified authorities, according to the state-run news site Zhejiang News.
Attempts to pull him out failed, so rescuers sawed away a section of the 10-centimetre diameter pipe with the baby inside and took him to a local hospital.
Firefighters and doctors spent nearly an hour taking the tube apart piece by piece with pliers and saws and finally recovered the newborn, whose placenta was still attached, the report said.
From the time he was found to when he was taken out, the baby was stuck in the tube for at least two hours, it added.
Named after the incubator he is now recovering in, baby number 59 is expected to survive, according to hospital officials.
The 2.3-kilogramme boy suffered some cuts to his face and limbs and his heart rate was low at one point. He was put in an incubator and was in stable condition, the report said.
The Pujiang county police bureau later said on its official microblog account that the boy’s mother has been located and that an investigation was ongoing, but gave no further details.
The landlord of the building in Pujiang county told Zhejiang News that it was unlikely the birth took place in the restroom because there was no evidence of blood and she was not aware of any recent pregnancies among her tenants.
News of the rescue prompted an outpouring from strangers who came to the hospital with diapers, baby clothes, powdered milk and offers to adopt the child.
Despite the offers to adopt Baby No. 59, a doctor at the hospital said the boy would be handed over to social services if his parents do not claim him.
Chinese families traditionally have a preference for sons, but babies born out of wedlock are sometimes abandoned because of social and financial pressures.
The country’s one-child policy can also mean heavy fines for couples who have more than one baby.