Chinese police have freed a newborn baby from a shallow grave where he was buried alive in a cardboard box, and arrested both his grandmothers for planning the boy’s murder.
The dramatic rescue operation began when a woman collecting wild herbs near a hillside graveyard in south-west China heard the sound of crying .
She rushed to get help, and rescuers scrabbling through damp soil found a very young baby cocooned a few centimetres below the surface, covered in dirt but still breathing. He had apparently been buried loosely enough for air to reach the box, along with water from regular rainstorms, which may have helped keep him alive.
Mobile phone pictures show the boy’s cardboard container being revealed, and then the boy, who has a cleft lip, being cleaned and cared for in hospital. When he arrived he was throwing up mud, and is still in a serious condition, China Central Television and other Chinese media reported.
Five people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, three of them relatives of the child. The group reportedly confessed they had abandoned him at the graveyard in the box, then came back two days later to bury him, mistakenly thinking he had died.
An official from the local government’s media department, who gave only his surname, Zheng, said two of the family members who had been detained were the boy’s grandmothers.
Zheng said the baby had been abandoned about three or four days after he was born, and officials could not yet confirm how long he had been buried before the rescue. Police were investigating the case, he added, but they declined to comment.
Chinese media reports said the boy had spent eight days underground after being exposed for two days, but offered no proof. Surviving 10 days without food would be an astonishing feat of endurance even for an adult and probably unprecedented for a newborn.
Doctors were amazed when an abandoned baby apparently survived five days in a storm drain in Sydney last year.