- The cries of a baby were heard from a sewer pipe in China over the weekend, prompting a delicate rescue mission that has gone viral.
- The boy, now called Baby No 59, is recovering in a hospital.
- His mother has been identified and even admitted to being the person who reported the trapped infant and watched the rescue mission as it unfolded before coming forward a few days later.
- Police were initially investigating the case as a homicide, but it is unclear now if the mother will be charged as she claims the baby going down the drain of the toilet where she delivered him was an accident.
BEIJING (TheBlaze/AP) — A 22-year-old woman who raised the initial alarm about a newborn trapped in a sewer pipe in China kept quiet about being his mother even as she watched the sensational two-hour rescue unfold, reports said Wednesday.
In this still image taken from video from Saturday May 25, 2013, rescue workers cut away parts of a sewage pipe where a newborn baby was trapped in Pujiang in east China's Zhejiang province. (Photo: AP)
The woman, whose name was not revealed in state media reports, confessed to police a couple of days later when they asked her to undergo a medical checkup after searching her rented room and finding toys and blood-stained toilet paper, the state-run Zhejiang News website said.
Firefighters were called Saturday to the residential building in the Pujiang area of the eastern Zhejiang province city of Jinhua to rescue a baby trapped in the L-joint of a sewage pipe just below a squat toilet in one of the building's public restrooms.
Video of the rescue of Baby No. 59 — so named because of his incubator number in the hospital — was shown on Chinese news programs and websites starting late Monday and picked up worldwide, prompting both horror and an outpouring of charity on behalf of the newborn.
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.
In China, unwanted pregnancies have been on the rise because of lack of sex education and of an increasingly lax attitude toward sex. Young men and women often are engaged in unprotected sex, and abortions have become increasingly are common.
The baby, who weighed 2.8 kilograms (6 pounds, 2.8 ounces), had a low heart rate and some minor abrasions on his head and limbs, but was mostly unhurt, according to Zhejiang Online, the province's official news site. The placenta was still attached. He is in the hospital recovering now.
The 2.3-kilogram (five-pound) baby who was stuck in a toilet pipe for two to three hours, sleeps in an incubator at the Pujiang People's Hospital on May 29, 2013, where nurses dubbed him "Baby No 59" after the machine's number. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical personnel attend to the 2.3-kilogram (five-pound) baby who was stuck in a toilet pipe for two to three hours, sleeps in an incubator at the Pujiang People's Hospital on May 29, 2013, where nurses dubbed him "Baby No 59" after the machine's number. The fall of the newborn baby into a toilet pipe in China was accidental and his mother will not be prosecuted, local officials said, adding the boy is healthy. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
In this still image made from video from May 25, 2013, legs with bruises of a baby, are seen on a bed at a hospital, after the newborn boy was rescued while being trapped in a sewage pipe just below a squat toilet in a public building, in Jinhua city, eastern China. A 22-year-old single woman who alerted the authorities of the boy trapped in a sewer in eastern China has admitted that she was the mother, but had refused to come forward because she could not support the child. (Photo: AP/Shaanxi TV via AP Video)
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.
In the video, officials were shown removing the pipe from a ceiling that apparently was just below the restroom and then, at the hospital, using pliers and saws to gently pull apart the pipe, which was about 10 centimeters (about 3 inches) in diameter.
Here's the video (Content Warning: Footage might be considered disturbing):
Zhejiang News said the mother was present throughout the entire rescue and expressed her concern for the child, thought that didn't initially rouse suspicion of the police.
News of the baby's ordeal was met with horror and pity by bloggers on Chinese sites. Most speculated that the child had been dumped by his parents down the toilet. The rescue prompted an outpouring from strangers who came to the hospital with diapers, baby clothes, powdered milk and offers to adopt him.
A nurse feeds milk to the 2.3-kilogram (five-pound) baby who was stuck in a toilet pipe for two to three hours, sleeps in an incubator at the Pujiang People's Hospital on May 29, 2013, where nurses dubbed him "Baby No 59" after the machine's number. The fall of the newborn baby into a toilet pipe in China was accidental and his mother will not be prosecuted, local officials said, adding the boy is healthy. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The landlord of the building told Zhejiang News earlier in the week that 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.
The mother told police she cleaned up the scene in the toilet after the delivery and that she managed to hide her pregnancy by wearing loose clothes and tightly wrapping her abdomen, Zhejiang News said.