China rescuers save baby lodged in sewage pipe

media captionMartin Patience's report from Beijing contains some distressing scenes

Firefighters in China have rescued a newborn baby boy lodged inside a sewage pipe leading off a toilet.

Residents of an apartment building in Jinhua city, Zhejiang province, called rescuers on Saturday after they heard the infant's cries.

Rescuers tried to pull the baby out of the pipe but failed and ended up sawing through a section of the pipe instead.

They took the pipe to hospital, where it was carefully pulled apart to release the infant.

The baby, thought to be just a few days old, was found inside a pipe 10cm (4 in) in diameter, the China Daily newspaper said.

Footage from state television showed firefighters and doctors working together using pliers to cut the pipe apart to get to the baby.

The baby is now in stable condition, reports say.

image captionResidents called rescuers after they heard the infant's cries. (WARNING: This gallery contains images some may find disturbing)
image captionRescuers tried to pull the baby out of the pipe at the scene, but failed.
image captionThey took the pipe to hospital, where it was pulled apart to release the infant.
image captionThe police are said to be treating the case as attempted murder and are searching for the parents.

The infant was named Baby No 59 - after the number of his hospital incubator, the Associated Press news agency reported.

A number of visitors had arrived at the hospital with contributions of nappies, baby clothes and powdered milk, it added.

Weibo reaction

Meanwhile, a police officer in Jinhua told Agence France-Presse that the baby's unmarried mother had hidden her pregnancy.

The baby fell into the toilet after she unexpectedly gave birth, the officer said.

"The woman was on the scene during the entire rescue process... and admitted [she was the mother] when we asked her," he told AFP.

He said police were still investigating whether "she had any malicious intentions" before deciding if charges should be filed. There was still no information on the baby's father, he said.

The case generated condemnation on weibo, China's version of Twitter.

"The parents who did this have hearts even filthier than that sewage pipe," one user was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Can these people be called human beings?" another user quoted by AFP said.

China has strict family planning rules, with the one-child policy in place for more than three decades. Although there are a number of exceptions, couples can face fines if they violate the policy.

There have also been cases of babies born outside marriage being abandoned, or female newborns abandoned because of a traditional preference for sons.