The mother of the newborn baby boy flushed down a toilet in China watched in secret as rescuers dramatically plucked him alive from a sewer pipe.
The 22-year-old woman is believed to have raised the initial alarm but only confessed to police after they searched her rented room and found toys and blood-stained toilet paper, the Chinese state news agency reported.
The two-day-old, 5lb boy has been temporarily named Baby 59 – the number of the incubator in which he lies with a fractured skull and severe bruising.
In scenes captured on video and posted online, firemen desperately sawed away at the four-inch-wide pipe just below a ceiling in which the boy was trapped.
The rescuers then rushed the section of pipe to a hospital, where firemen and doctors alternately used pliers and saws to take it apart.
The infant’s arms were pinned to his side and when the pipe was prised away, he let out a long wail at the Pujiang County People’s Hospital in Jinhua, eastern China. He was still attached to the placenta.
Baby 59’s condition was said to be stable and he should recover. But the incident has succeeded in outraging a country in which brutal acts against youngsters are a common occurrence.
Police initially said they were treating the case of as possible attempted homicide, but it was not immediately clear whether the mother would face any criminal charges.
A police officer said she had hidden her pregnancy and claimed the baby fell into the lavatory after she unexpectedly gave birth. ‘The woman was on the scene during the entire rescue process … and admitted she was the mother when we asked her.’
He said police were still investigating whether she had any ‘malicious intentions’ before deciding on charges.
The single woman, a tenant in the building, told police she could not afford an abortion and secretly delivered the child Saturday afternoon in the toilet.
She said the newborn slipped into the sewer line and that she alerted her landlord of the trapped baby after she could not pull the child out, Zhejiang News said.
The landlord of the building said there were no signs that the birth took place in the restroom and she had not been aware of any recent pregnancies among her tenants.
But the mother told police she cleaned up the toilet after the delivery and that she had managed to hide her pregnancy by wearing loose clothes and tightly wrapping her abdomen.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese people took to Weibo – their version of Twitter – to vent their fury at the mother, believed to be an unmarried 22-year-old.
News of the rescue also prompted an outpouring of help from locals who came to the hospital armed with nappies, baby clothes, powdered milk and even offers to adopt the child.
Nurse Zhang Songhe told the Daily Mail that the mother of the baby was with him in hospital. ‘I don’t know the reason she abandoned the baby.
‘We’re going to take care of the baby. We are not sure when the baby can be discharged.’
She added: ‘When the baby arrived here, he was in critical condition.
‘We suspect he has a fracture in the top right section of his skull. But now everything has been stabilized.’
Residents living in a residential building in Jinhua in the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang reported the sound of a baby crying in the public restroom on Saturday.
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.
The baby was stuck in an L-shaped portion of the sewage pipe with a diameter of about 10 centimeters (3 inches).
The video shows rescuers sawing off a section of the pipe along a ceiling that apparently was just below the restroom.
His eyes, face and body were covered in the filth of the pipe.
There are frequent reports in Chinese media of babies being abandoned often shortly after birth, a problem attributed variously to 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.
The case has been widely discussed on China’s Twitter-like service Sina Weibo due to the graphic nature of the footage, with calls for the parents to be severely punished.
‘The parents who did this have hearts even filthier than that sewage pipe,’ wrote one user.
It was not immediately clear how the baby ended up in the toilet, but police said they were treating the case as an attempted homicide.
The Pujiang county police bureau said on its official microblog account that the boy’s mother has been located and that an investigation is ongoing, but gave no further details.
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