A newborn baby boy lodged in a sewage pipe directly beneath a toilet has been rescued by firefighters in eastern China.Suggestions that the child had been dumped have been revised after it emerged that the 22-year-old unmarried mother of the baby was the one who raised the alarm.
According to a police source in Jinhua, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, the woman gave birth unexpectedly when she went to the lavatory on Saturday, and the newborn fell into the squat toilet.
The mother, who had hidden her pregnancy, telephoned her landlord, claiming she heard "weird noises" in the pipe, and the proprietor called police after spotting the infant.
Firefighters had to remove the pipe, reported to be 10cm (three inches) in diameter, and take it to a nearby hospital, where doctors carefully cut around it to rescue the baby inside.
They spent nearly an hour taking the tube apart piece by piece with pliers and saws and finally recovered the 5lb (2.3kg) boy, whose placenta was still attached.
From the time he was found until when he was taken out, the child - named Baby 59 from the number of his hospital incubator - was stuck in the tube for two to three hours, according to the policeman who declined to be named.
Firefighters work to remove the pipe after a woman heard the newborn baby crying (HAP/ Quirky China News/ Rex …"The woman was on the scene during the entire rescue process ... and admitted (she was the mother) when we asked her," he said, adding they were still looking for the boy's father. "We need further investigations to find out if she had any malicious intentions" before deciding whether the mother would be charged, he added.
According to the officer: "The baby is very healthy now and can be released from the hospital."
But the mother was in a serious condition due to complications from the delivery, he added.
Video footage of the rescue was broadcast nationally overnight before details of the unexpected birth emerged.
The news triggered hundreds of thousands of comments on China's hugely popular Weibo service, which is similar to Twitter, with users expressing good wishes for the baby.
One user, If-Free, said watching the rescue left her distraught.
"Seeing the little one wriggling and groaning as the pipe was torn apart bit by bit wrings my heart ... You've lived through the hardest moment in your life and your future will definitely be smooth," she said.
There are frequent reports in Chinese media of babies being abandoned, often shortly after birth.
The problem is attributed to factors such as young mothers unaware they were pregnant, the birth of an unwanted girl in a society which puts greater value on boys or China's strict family planning rules.