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A newborn baby flushed down the toilet by his mother was rescued after a passer-by heard his cries from a sewer.
The tiny boy, nicknamed Xiaoxiao, has proved to be a Christmas miracle after he survived the ordeal.
Rescuers took the cover off the sewer in China’s Shaanxi Province to reveal the newborn lying on his back in a small pool of water.
Suide County fire department squad leader Li Zhi said: "It was really a race against time because somebody could have flushed something down the sewer again at any stage, or the baby might have turned over and ended up face first in the filthy water and drowned.
"But we didn't want to smash the pipe because we thought that might also hurt or even kill the baby. So we had to use a mixture of tools in order to ease him towards the opening and then pull him out.
"He still had the umbilical cord attached and it had obviously been clumsily cut."
The baby miraculously survived the ordeal unhurt and he is not expected to suffer any complications as a result of his introduction to the world
Police said they had started a search for the mother of the child and added that it was not the first time that an unwanted baby had been abandoned in such a way.
They have appealed for help in tracking down the mother who may need medical help but have also warned that she will face legal charges if found.
Meanwhile, the newborn was taken to hospital where after being cleaned and fed he was was announced to be perfectly healthy.
Staff said they did not expect him to suffer any complications as a result of his introduction to life.
Attending physician Li Zhiping said: "The child survived the ordeal surprisingly unscathed. I can't think of any similar case where a child survived being effectively flushed down the toilet."
The child, nicknamed Xiaoxiao by his rescuers, is being taken care of by members of the fire department who have volunteered to be his temporary parents while an investigation begins to determine how Xiaoxiao ended up the sewer.