China: baby boy rescued from sewer pipe

politics | May 28, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

A newborn baby boy was rescued alive from a pipe leading from a toilet after being flushed down by his parents. Emergency services were called to a public toilet on the fourth floor of an apartment building in Jinhua, a city in the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang on the afternoon of May 25. After hearing cries coming from beneath the floor of the lavatory, the landlady at the complex called for help.
 
After being discovered beneath a toilet commode, firefighters in eastern China were able to wrest the infant out of a jam after removing a section of pipe. Physicians then cut the struggling baby boy free. Now safely at a local hospital, the infant boy has been dubbed ‘number 59’ after his incubator, according to local media. Numerous stories like this, in which infants are abandoned or killed, emerge in China which has a strict policy limiting couples to just one child. Women in China are forced to abort their children if they exceed the government-imposed limit. Nonetheless, this most recent case has sparked debate and anger on social media sites. Chinese couples put a premium on baby boys, thus making baby girls the more common victims of infanticide.
 
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they could hear faint cries come from beneath the toilet. Looking further, they discovered the baby boy’s foot deep inside the pipe leading to the sanitary sewer.  The pipe leading from the toilet was a mere four inches wide. The fire brigade was able to swiftly dismantle the pipe in which the baby was lodged and carry it away so that doctors could release the child. Doctors were able to carefully cut around the pipe and rescue the boy, whose head was lodged in the narrow pipe and whose arms were pinned to his sides. When he was carefully pried out of the pipe, he let out a wail that pleased the doctors who had been fighting hard to save his life. The tyke’s eyes, face and boy were covered with filth from the pipe.
 
‘Number 59’ is now safe and in stable condition at a hospital, while authorities are seeking his parents. So far, supportive citizens have stepped up and provided diapers, clothing and powdered milk to the hospital for the baby. 
 
The case of Number 59 is being widely discussed on Sina Weibo, a service very similar to Twitter. Calls are being made for severe punishment for the boy’s parents, even while demands for a change to China’s anti-natalist policies are muted. One user on Sina Weibo wrote, “The parents who did this have hearts even filthier than that sewage pipe.” 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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