Deliveryman is new Chinese superhero after rescuing infirm woman from burning flat

BEIJING - Climbing up from the outside of a block of flats to rescue an elderly and infirm woman from her burning home has turned a Chinese courier into an unlikely hero.

Mr Li Hongchen, 31, was delivering parcels in Harbin, the capital of northeastern China's Heilongjiang province on Friday (March 30) morning when he heard cries from help from an apartment building, The South China Morning Post reported, citing news website Qq.com.

A woman who lived on the first floor had raised the alarm after detecting a burning smell and seeing smoke come out of a third floor window.

Mr Li leapt into action, racing up the stairs towards the fire along with several residents of the building. But when he reached the door, he received no response to his banging.

"People told me there was an elderly woman inside who was bedridden," he was quoted as saying. "They also said her hearing was bad."

Mr Li ran downstairs and alerted the people living in the flat immediately below, who allowed him to use their balcony to climb up the outside of the building to the flat above.

When he found the elderly woman, though, he found that she was too infirm to escape on her own.

"I told the woman, 'come with me', but she replied, 'I can't walk'," Mr Li said. "So I said, 'just hold on to my neck and I'll give you a piggyback downstairs'. But then she said, 'I can't move my hands either.'"

With time running out, Mr Li put his arms under the 84-year-old, lifted her out of bed and carried her to safety. Once at the landing, neighbours were ready to help, and so were several of Mr Li's colleagues, who he had called for help.

It was unclear how the fire started or what happened to the elderly woman after her ordeal. However, the report said she lived with her daughter, who was not at home at the time of the blaze, which broke out in a makeshift kitchen area close to the balcony.

For his bravery, Mr Li was rewarded with a cash bonus by his employer, SF Express.