Chinese firefighters have rescued a newborn boy from a sewer pipe below a squat toilet, sawing out an L-shaped section and then delicately dismantling it to free the cocooned baby, who greeted the rescuers with cries.
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. A video of the two-hour rescue that followed was broadcast widely on Chinese news programs and websites late yesterday and today.
The child – named Baby No. 59 from the number of his hospital incubator – was reported safe in a nearby hospital, and 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.
ABC News reported that the case resonated with the Chinese public particularly after another recent case of a newborn found in a dumpster in Hebei province. That baby did not survive. ABC cited social media these social media postings:
“This should be sentenced to death, they are killing their own baby. This is not the only abandoned baby case I saw in the past ten days, one threw in dumpster and died; the other one was fleshed into toilet, those are not actions human beings should do,” wrote Sina Weibo user @bhdrswxjs.
And, ABC said, Netizen @Anandeshouxin added: “This little boy survived, he will do great in the future. The parents will never have a good life. I don’t even know how to curse them when seeing this shocking news.”
Infant abandonment is often believed to be related to China's strict family planning policy which penalizes families for having more than one child. The one-child policy has been tinkered with in recent years to allow some exceptions in light of a potentially disastrous demographic trend: The proportion of children has fallen sharply over the past decade while the number of pensioners has risen rapidly – which could mean that China will grow old before it grows rich, some economists warn.
Police are treating the case as an attempted homicide, and are looking for the mother and anyone else involved in the incident.
The landlord of the building in Pujiang county told Zhejiang News that it was unlikely the birth took place in the toilet room because there was no evidence of blood and she was not aware of any recent pregnancies among her tenants.
The baby was stuck in the L-joint of pipe with a diameter of about 3 inches.
The video shows rescuers sawing out a section of the pipe along a ceiling that apparently was just below the restroom. The rescuers then rushed that section of pipe to a hospital, were firefighters and medics alternately used pliers and saws to rip apart the L-joint and free the baby.
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, Zhejiang News said.