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Two rescued alive from quake rubble


Buses loaded with Nepalese people leave Kathmandu as a relief cargo plane flies overhead (AP)

Buses loaded with Nepalese people leave Kathmandu as a relief cargo plane flies overhead (AP)

Buses loaded with Nepalese people leave Kathmandu as a relief cargo plane flies overhead (AP)

A woman has been pulled from the earthquake rubble in Kathmandu just hours after a 15-year-old boy was also rescued alive after spending five days trapped under a collapsed building.

Cheers rang out in Nepal's capital earlier today as rescuers pulled Pemba Tamang, dazed and dusty, from the rubble and carried him away on a stretcher. He had been trapped under the remains of a seven-storey building in Kathmandu since Saturday, when the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck.

Nepalese rescuers, supported by an American disaster response team, had been working for hours to free him. LB Basnet, one of the police officers who helped rescue Pemba, said he was surprisingly responsive.

"He thanked me when I first approached him," said Mr Basnet. "He told me his name, his address, and I gave him some water. I assured him we were near to him."

When Pemba was lifted out, his face was covered in dust and medics had put an IV drip into his arm. A blue brace had been placed around his neck. He appeared stunned, and his eyes blinked in the sunlight as workers hurriedly carried him away.

Pemba said he was working in a hotel in the building when it began to shake.

"Suddenly the building fell down," he said. "I thought I was about to die."

All he had to eat while he was trapped was some clarified butter, he said.

Tonight, police in the city said a woman in her 20s, Krishna Devi Khadka, was rescued from rubble in another location. She had been trapped in an area near Kathmandu's main bus terminal where there are lots of hotels.

The jubilant scenes were welcome on a drizzly, chilly day in Kathmandu where many residents remained on edge over aftershocks that have rattled the city since Saturday's mammoth quake killed more than 5,900 people and destroyed thousands of houses and other buildings.

More than 70 aftershocks stronger than magnitude 3.2 have been recorded in the Himalayan region by Indian scientists over the past five days, according to JL Gautam, the director of seismology at the Indian Meteorological Department in New Delhi. The strongest, registering magnitude 6.9, came on Sunday, he said.

Rattled by the shaking and anxious to check on family members in outlying areas, tens of thousands of people have left the capital on buses this week. The government has been providing free bus services to many destinations.

"I have to get home. It has already been so many days," said Shanti Kumari, with her seven-year-old daughter, who was desperate to see family in her home village in eastern Nepal. "I want to get at least a night of peace."

Five days after the quake, tent cities in Kathmandu have thinned out, as overnight rainfall persuaded many people to return to their homes even if they were damaged by the quake.

Life in the capital is slowly returning to the way it had been before the quake. Small snack shops are open. At a leather goods shop, a merchant brushed dust from a jacket on display. A man laid out carpets and rugs beneath an awning at a handicrafts store.

"It's getting back to normal, but we're still feeling aftershocks. It still doesn't feel safe," said Prabhu Dutta, a 27-year-old banker from Kathmandu. He said he felt four aftershocks in the morning, including one that rattled the sliding glass doors of the bookshelf in his bedroom -"My morning wake-up notice," he said.

Mr Dutta has been sleeping in his home, which has some cracks in the wall, for two nights but the dozens of small aftershocks that he has felt since Saturday make him uneasy. "I am worried about whether they will continue for a long time or whether it will calm down."

Mr Gautam of the Indian Meteorological Department said the aftershocks could continue for long periods.

"We can expect aftershocks over the next few weeks, or months, or even years," he said. "These aftershocks are quite normal after a powerful earthquake of such magnitude."

There was no way, however, for seismologists to predict when the "next big one" would occur, he said.

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