The family of a boy found floating face-down in a city fountain were last night at his hospital bedside.
The four-year-old was hauled from the water at Cathays Park, Cardiff, by a passer-by who then began to resuscitate him.
Traumatised onlookers could only watch as attempts were made to save his life.
Police confirmed that at the time of the incident the boy’s family were reporting him missing just around the corner at Cardiff Central Police Station.
Panicked council staff at City Hall, which faces on to Cathays Park, ran to help save the little boy with a defibrillator before an ambulance arrived.
He is now in a stable condition at the University Hospital of Wales’ Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. His family were with him as he began his hospital recovery.
The identity of the life-saver is not known, but he is understood to be a student who was on his way to Cardiff University when he saw the child face-down in the fountain, which is around 1ft deep.
The site remains cordoned off, and a scenes-of-crime officer has been seen taking pictures at the location.
Mark Kinsey, a civil engineer working close to the scene, said he saw a woman desperately trying to resuscitate the child by the side of the fountain.
He said: “I heard the sirens and looked over and there must have been eight or nine police cars pulling up. That was when I saw a woman by the side of the fountain trying to resuscitate a boy. He was tiny, he looked no more than two or three years old.
“When I realised what was going on I didn’t get too close. An ambulance turned up and the paramedic began resuscitating the boy as well. Then he was rushed away with the sirens.”
A woman who had been passing by, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It was horrific. People were stood crying while they tried to resuscitate the child.
“Police arrived and moved us back while they carried on trying to save him. He didn’t seem to be moving.”
A police spokeswoman said: “At around 2.45pm, South Wales Police received a report of a male child having been found drowned outside Cardiff City Hall.
“The boy was recovered from the water by members of the public and taken to hospital by ambulance for medical treatment accompanied by his family.
“Officers attended the location to speak with witnesses and inquiries are ongoing.”
Inspector Andy Walbeoff, added: “I can confirm that the child was being reported missing at the time of the incident at Cardiff Central Police Station.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called concerning an incident involving a young child who was found face-down in water in Cardiff.
“Paramedics tried resuscitation, before taking him to the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff.”
Ruth Walker, executive director of nursing for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “The young boy is being cared for at University Hospital of Wales’ Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where he is in a stable condition.
“Staff are doing everything possible for the young boy and are supporting the family as best they can during what is a very difficult time.”
A Cardiff council spokesman said: “There was an incident involving a two-year-old boy outside City Hall this afternoon.
“Council staff who work in City Hall were involved in helping with the situation and we thank them for their efforts. An investigation is now under way by the emergency services.”