A three-year-old girl, who was spotted dangling from the fourth floor window of her apartment in central China, was saved by one of her neighbours on Sunday (27 August).

The incident took place in Xiaogan in Hubei province after the child's mother had gone out to buy groceries, local news website Thepaper.cn reported.

The heroic neighbour, Chen Fangyong, climbed up the apartment railings from outside and used his chest and arms to support the toddler's weight for nearly 20 minutes. They were brought down to safety by firefighters, the website added.

A video of the incident later went viral on Chinese social media.

Fangyong told the news website that he was taking a nap at home when he heard commotion outside and saw people gathering outside the apartment block.

He said that once he saw the child had stopped moving, he climbed up to help support her.

"I'd seen a child stuck in a window railing before on TV, but never thought this would happen in real life," he was quoted as saying. "I think anyone encountering this situation would have tried to help."

According to the report, other neighbours had planned to break down the door of the house after they realised nobody was at home. They had even prepared a makeshift 'landing pad' from several duvets and bedsheets in case the girl fell.

The mother of the child, whose name has not been disclosed, revealed that she was forced to leave the girl at home as the child did not want to go shopping with her.