Firefighters in China rescued an abandoned newborn baby boy from a sewage pipe in an apartment building after the baby had been apparently flushed down a toilet. The incident took place in Jinhua, a city in the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang, on Saturday afternoon after residents reported hearing the sound of a baby crying, Reuters reports.
"Fortunately, the baby survived," an unnamed police officer said, according to the Chinese news portal hangzhou.com.cn. "But the person [who abandoned him] is still suspected of attempted murder."
Firefighters arriving on the scene tried to saw a section of the pipe to get to the baby, but that proved unsuccessful, CNN reports. So both the baby and the pipe were taken to a local hospital, where the pipe was removed piece by piece. The dramatic moment when the newborn was freed was caught on camera. The infant is reportedly in stable condition.
Jinhua police reached out to the baby's mother on Chinese social media website Weibo with the following message:
"Mom, come back! The baby is resilient and alive. Please show up, Mom. This is your own baby and he should return to your warm embrace soon."
Chinese media reports frequent incidents of babies being abandoned, often stemming from the country’s one-child policy, which was implemented in 1979 and enforces strict family planning for only one child per couple. Many families face fines for breaking the policy, causing a large number of babies to be abandoned -- especially girls.
The policy has led to a gender disparity in the country where there are 118 boys for every 100 girls. The Communist Party implemented the policy as a “temporary” measure at the time to curb the country’s high birthrate.
China's birthrate is officially 1.8, but according to Yi Fuxian, an independent demographic expert, it’s closer to 1.2 -- much lower than the 2.1 rate necessary to keep the population at its current size, the New York Times reports. Yi warns that the country is heading toward a demographic disaster in which its rapidly aging population won't have enough of a workforce to support their retirement.