Infant's fall in pipe probed

Updated: 2013-05-30 03:45

By SHI JING in Shanghai and YAN YIQI in Hangzhou (China Daily)

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Unwed mother says baby boy fell by accident during birth

The fall of a newborn boy into a toilet pipe last week in Zhejiang province is being called an accident but police confirmed on Wednesday that they are still investigating the case.

The infant was stuck for two hours in a U-shaped sewer, only 10 centimeters in diameter, in a residential building in Jinhua, Zhejiang province on Saturday. It took firefighters 10 minutes to cut off the section of the pipe.

Infant's fall in pipe probed

An infant in an incubator receives care at a hospital in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, on Tuesday. The newborn was rescued from a sewer pipe in a residential building last week. Zhong Cheng / for China Daily

The child suffered bruises on his head and limbs from being stuck in the airtight pipe for so long.

The unmarried mother, 22, a resident of Pujiang county who did not reveal her name, was found on Monday night, according to local police, who became suspicious because she had blood on her clothes.

The woman, who rents the room where the baby fell, reportedly told her landlady to call the police because she heard a baby crying from the sewer pipe, said Zhang Jianbo, an officer at the local police station.

She claimed that she did not dump the baby on purpose, Zhang said.

“She said she felt sudden pain and went to the toilet when the baby came out and slipped into the sewer pipe,” the police officer said. “She tried to get him up but failed. She said that she did not have money to raise the baby so she kept silent when he was rescued”.

The woman is unmarried and the father is still unknown. Zhang said police are still investigating the case and her punishment will be decided after the investigation is concluded.

Chen Pandong, director of the administrative office of Pujiang People’s Hospital, said the baby is now drinking 30 ml of milk a day.

He said a CT scan showed a shadow in the baby’s brain, possibly caused by hypoxia, a condition in which a region of the body is deprived of an adequate oxygen supply. It is still unclear whether the trauma and injuries the baby suffered will lead to any additional health conditions.

The baby will remain in the hospital while the mother is under investigation.

According to the Criminal Law, whoever refuses to support an aged person, sick person, minor or any other person who cannot live independently, if the circumstances are flagrant, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years criminal detention or public surveillance.

It is possible that the woman might violate the Criminal Law in this regard, according to Ruan Fangmin, a professor of criminal jurisprudence at Zheijiang University’s Guanghua Law School. But he said it is also possible that the case will be dealt with as an abandonment instead of as a crime.

“As there is no specific and detailed explanation for ‘flagrant’, it is then left to the judicial body to make the judgment,” he said.

There have been a few cases of abandoned children reported recently. One in particular was a woman who gave birth to a boy in public in Beijing on March 20 and then left the baby in the early spring chill.

“The population is highly mobile nowadays. People from rural areas who come to live in cities will bring their traditions, like abandoning children they cannot support. Therefore, the frequency of such cases will increase, especially in the outskirts of cities,” said Xue Yali, a researcher at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.