The mother of a Chinese newborn flushed down the toilet has claimed the incident was an accident.

The two-day-old boy was rescued from a 10cm diameter sewage pipe beneath a squat toilet in Jinhua City, eastern China, earlier this month.

Firefighters sawed through a section of pipe and then used pliers to free the infant after residents reported hearing a baby's cries.

Police told AFP news that the 22-year-old, who has not been named, confessed to keeping her pregnancy secret after being identified by investigators.

She claimed that after giving birth unexpectedly on the toilet, she tried to catch him but he slipped into the sewer.

According to Zhejiang News, the unmarried mother informed her landlord when she was unable to pull the child out but did not reveal that the child was hers.

"Our investigations showed it was an accident," a police officer told the news agency before confirming the woman would not face prosecution.

The boy, named Baby 59 - after the number of his hospital incubator - has reportedly been taken home by his maternal grandparents. The mother remains under medical care.

He is believed to have suffered only minor abrasions to his head and limbs.

The case has drawn worldwide condemnation and prompted charitable donations for the child.

In the wake of his rescue, a number of well-wishers came to the hospital with contributions of nappies, baby clothes and powdered milk. There have been offers to adopt him.

China has a high rate of babies being abandoned shortly after birth, a problem attributed to teen pregnancy and female feticide.

The country's strict one-child policy, which requires couples to pay a heavy fine for having more than one baby, has also been cited as one of the reasons the mother did not initially come forward.