'Miracle survivor' was just wishful thinking

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The Independent Online

The people of Sri Lanka are desperate for a miracle to lift spirits as they pick up the pieces on their battered island. Yesterday, they thought they had one.

The people of Sri Lanka are desperate for a miracle to lift spirits as they pick up the pieces on their battered island. Yesterday, they thought they had one.

Excitement swept across the country when a newspaper reported that a 60-year-old man had been pulled alive from the rubble of a shop in a suburb of the shattered town of Galle.

The man, H G Sirisena, was dehydrated, had a broken arm and mild pneumonia, but he would survive, claimed doctors. But by the evening it appeared that Sri Lanka's miracle was just wishful thinking.

Locals poured scorn on the idea that Mr Sirisena had been trapped for two weeks. "I saw him walking around in the days before he was found," said Somasiri Wijowoora, who lives close to the scene of the reported rescue. "We have offered him food and clothes but he refuses."

One doctor said she thought it was "unlikely" that Mr Sirisena had lived for two weeks stuck under a fallen building.

No family had come forward to care for him since he was "discovered" by members of a political party that has mounted its own high-profile aid effort.

Mr Sirisena was unconscious last night and medics suggested that he might not survive until the morning.

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