BEIJING - 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.
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 that 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 a 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 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.
Zhejiang News said the mother was present throughout the entire rescue and expressed her concern for the child, though that didn't initially rouse suspicion of the police.