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In a muddy tunnel, encased in concrete, a girl called Liz tries to halt the inevitable

Inch by inch, the defiant vigil of a runway protester was coming to an end last night as bailiffs tried to remove her from an 8ft-deep hole. The bespectacled young woman, Liz, an artist, had a plastic noose around her neck cut free, and officials were later trying to hack through similar ties attaching her arms and legs to concrete supports.

At one point, officials at the site of the proposed second Manchester Airport runway gave her a shot of air with an oxygen mask, while a doctor monitored her medical condition.

Beneath Liz, and behind the entrance to the rest of the 70ft tunnel - called the Worm - was her partner, Martin, and two other male protesters.

A fellow protester said Liz was a veteran of similar demonstrations at Newbury in Berkshire. He said: "She is a determined protester ... She will do all she can peacefully to hinder the bailiffs."

A spokesman for the under-sheriff of Cheshire, Randal Hibbert, said yesterday: "We expect to get her out later this evening."

After a meeting yesterday, the under-sheriff agreed that the remaining protesters - around 80 at the Sir Cliff Richard, Flywood and River Rats camps - could receive food and water every other day in a eviction likely to last up to two more weeks. Nine arrests for obstruction were made yesterday.

The Police Complaints Authority confirmed yesterday that it would supervise an investigation into two claims that police used excessive force during the start of the evictions last week. One man claimed he suffered a fractured rib and cuts in an assault by police.

Meanwhile, a separate group of demonstrators, the Sea Sabs, said they would sue the under-sheriff and individual officials over claims that one of their group was assaulted at the site. They say the incident occurred when they attempted to get into the site early on Tuesday to take batteries, films and food to protesters and to visit the River Bollin.

One Sab told The Independent: "We are a non-violent group and we now want to show that enough is enough. We had a legal as well as a moral right to be on the river."

A spokesman for the under-sheriff said he was unaware of the allegations and unable to comment.

Letters, page 19