Police are hunting two heartless robbers who snatched a nine-month-old from her mothers’ arms and left her to drown in a paddling pool while they ransacked the family’s home.

The horrific incident took place in the rural parish of San Pedro de Suma in the canton of El Carmen in the Ecuadorian province of Manabi on the afternoon of Saturday, November 20.

Angelica Murillo had been washing her nine-month-old daughter, Maria Guadalupe Lopez Murillo, in an inflatable pool on her patio when the two men arrived on a motorcycle.

The crooks initially claimed they were from a dog vaccination programme, but Angelica had no pets, and told them they must be mistaken.

However, the men then forced themselves into the property, snatching the baby from her mother's arms and leaving her in the pool while they took the mum inside.

Angelica handed them around a thousand US dollars, which was all the cash she had, but the robbers were not satisfied and, according to Ecuadorian newspaper El Diario they tied the woman up and began to ransack the house.

However, while they were searching the house for more loot, they appear to have heard a motorbike in the distance and decided to make their escape.

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After the duo left, Angelica began to scream for help, and her cries were heard by her 12-year-old daughter, who had been playing at a neighbour's house, according to local news outlet Infobae.

She returned home, where she found her baby sister floating in the pool. She then untied her mother, who desperately tried to revive the infant, but without success.

The police are still searching for the suspects, but have so far been unable to locate them.

Ecuador is in the grip of a massive crime wave, with an average of 66 robberies reported every day.

UK government advice says that armed robbery is a particular risk, noting that, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency over soaring crime rates last month.

The military has been deployed to back up police officers and to combat drug traffickers and other criminals in the troubled South American state.

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