Man dies after cesspit search mission

Beijing - A man and his mother both died trying to retrieve his wife's new cellphone from a toilet septic tank in China, reports said on Friday, with four other people also entering the cesspit.

The woman dropped her new device - worth 2 000 yuan ($320) - in the open-pit toilet, reported Dahe, a web portal run by the Henan provincial government.

Her husband jumped in to try to locate the phone, but was overcome by fumes and passed out, it said.

His mother went into the cesspit to try to help her son, but fainted herself, prompting the woman and then her father-in-law to enter in turn, the report said.

Two neighbours then followed the family into the septic tank, and were also overcome.

Villagers in Xinxiang, in central China, used ropes to retrieve the six people from the tank, which online images showed to be accessed via a one-metre-square brick-built hole.

The husband and mother-in-law both died, while the woman remained unconscious and the two neighbours were also ill, the report said.

“In five minutes, two lives have gone and my daughter-in-law is unconscious, leaving a half-paralysed elderly man and a one-year-old grandson,” the husband's distraught uncle said, according to the web portal.

“How are we supposed to go on?”

The report did not specify whether the phone had been found. - AFP