Beijing (CNN) -- Tenants in an east China apartment building first heard the cry, like the mewling of a rabbit or a cat.
Then they saw an incredible thing -- a newborn's foot in the opening of a toilet pipe.
When rescuers arrived Saturday, they first tried to pull the child free by cutting the pipe. But that didn't work, and the baby remained stuck.
So they sawed away the entire pipe, with the infant still inside, and brought the section to a hospital in Jinhua.
Working together, doctors and rescuers used pliers to pull away bits of the pipe, eventually revealing the baby, its shoulders and head pressed against the pipe's lining. The placenta was still attached.
On Wednesday, the infant, a boy referred to as "Baby 59," is in stable condition and is drinking formula, doctors told CNN.
His story of improbable survival is making headlines across the globe, but it's barely made a ripple in mainstream Chinese media.
The mother of the infant is not being identified, but police say she is 22.
Local police say that, so far, they believe her account of how the baby ended up in the pipe.
"That day she felt stomachaches," said Jiang Song, the vice director of police. "So she went to the toilet. It was actually close to her due date and the baby just slid out."
Police questioned the woman, who told them that she did not intend for the child to fall into the toilet, according to a local TV channel that was posted on the official police Weibo account.
The police said she tried to retrieve the baby with a stick, then decided to flush the toilet to clear away the blood.
The tenants told CNN that they called authorities. The police say that the mother called her landlord, saying she'd heard a strange sound that seemed like it might be a baby and suggested that the landlord and others come to check.
When police arrived at the apartment, they said, they found a pair of pants stained with blood.
Donations for the baby from rescuers
According to police, one of the firefighters involved visited the baby and sent clothes, formula powder and diapers.
Other rescuers sent milk bottles and formula.
Someone wrote a note and attached it to the donated items.
"Don't let the baby starve," it read. "Let's pray."
Elizabeth Joseph reported from Hong Kong; C.Y. Xu and David McKenzie reported from Beijing. CNN's Feng Ke and Hala Gorani also contributed to this report.