Five found in Thai wreckage

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The Independent Online
NAKHON RATCHASIMA (AP) - Hours after giving up hope of finding more survivors, rescue workers in Thailand last night discovered five women alive under tons of rubble from the hotel that had collapsed three days earlier.

Thai authorities had said there was no chance that anyone was left alive, and started using cranes and bulldozers to remove the hill of debris. But sifting by hand resumed after signs of life were discovered in a conference room where nearly 120 teachers were assembled when the hotel caved in on Friday morning.

Police yesterday said at least 95 people were killed and 225 injured in the collapse of the six-storey Royal Plaza Hotel in Nakhon Ratchasima, 250km (150 miles) north-east of Bangkok. Officials co-ordinating the search said 50 to 60 people remained inside the rubble.

The province's chief medical officer, Dr Chalong Kunha, said two of the five women discovered alive yesterday were very weak. He said the women were given some food, water and soft drinks. Rescuers working under floodlights carved a narrow tunnel through the concrete and steel rubble, big enough only to crawl through, to reach the survivors. But they were not yet able to free them.

Through plastic tubes, doctors pumped oxygen into the area where the women were trapped. The mother of one of the women went to the edge of the tunnel and, shaking and out of breath, shouted: 'Mother is here]' Workers told her that her daughter would not be able to hear her.

Two hotel maids pulled from the rubble after doctors amputated their legs, which were pinned down by debris, were in satisfactory condition.