A newborn boy is recovering in a Chinese hospital after being rescued from a sewage pipe below a squat toilet by firefighters, state media reports.

"Fortunately the baby survived. But the person [who abandoned him] is still suspected of attempted murder," said an unnamed police officer, according to official news portal hangzhou.com.cn.

A video of the rescue was broadcast widely on Chinese news programmes and websites late on Monday and Tuesday.

Residents in Jinhua, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, called firefighters after hearing the two-day-old baby crying in the fourth-floor squat lavatory in a communal washroom, the report said.

Attempts to pull him out failed, so rescuers sawed away a section of the 10-centimetre diameter pipe with the baby inside and took him to a local hospital.

Firefighters and doctors spent nearly an hour taking the tube apart piece by piece with pliers and saws and finally recovered the newborn, whose placenta was still attached, the report said.

From the time he was found to when he was taken out, the baby was stuck in the tube for at least two hours, it added.

Mother located

Named after the incubator he is now recovering in, baby number 59 is expected to survive, according to hospital officials.

The 2.3-kilogramme boy suffered some cuts to his face and limbs and his heart rate was low at one point. He was put in an incubator and was in stable condition, the report said.

The Pujiang county police bureau said on its official microblog account that the boy's mother has been located and that an investigation was ongoing, but gave no further details.

The landlord of the building in Pujiang county told Zhejiang News that it was unlikely the birth took place in the restroom because there was no evidence of blood and she was not aware of any recent pregnancies among her tenants.

News of the rescue prompted an outpouring from strangers who came to the hospital with diapers, baby clothes, powdered milk and offers to adopt the child.

Chinese families traditionally have a preference for sons, but babies born out of wedlock are sometimes abandoned because of social and financial pressures.

The country's one-child policy can also mean heavy fines for couples who have more than one baby.

Source: Agencies