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Pempa (15) tells of terror of being left buried alive

A young boy has told how he was buried alive for five days after the Nepal earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people.

Pempa Tamang (15) said he listened to bulldozers clearing mountains of debris, fearful the incessant aftershocks might collapse the darkened crevice he was trapped in.

Then, "all of the sudden I saw light", he said, recounting the moment yesterday he was pulled from a hole at the bottom of what was once a seven-storey building in Kathmandu.

Tamang did not know whether he was alive or dead. "I thought I was hallucinating," he said.

Early today, the government said the toll from the tremor, the most powerful recorded here since 1934, had risen to 6,19.

After night fell, police reported another dramatic rescue - a woman in her 20s, Krishna Devi Khadka, was pulled from a building in the same neighbourhood as Tamang near Kathmandu's main bus terminal.

"Life has become a struggle to survive. It gives us hope," Hans Raj Joshi said after watching Tamang's rescue.

"We thought they were only bringing out the dead. It's hard to believe people are still alive."

When Tamang was finally extricated, rescue workers inserted an IV in his arm, propped him onto a yellow plastic stretcher - the same kind that has helped convey countless dead - and carried him through the ruins on their shoulders as if he was a newly crowned king.

Lines of police stood on both sides, keeping back mobs of bystanders and journalists. A dazed Tamang, wearing a dark shirt with the New York Yankees logo, blinked at the bright sky.

When the procession turned a corner there came a sound Kathmandu had not heard in days: the jubilant cheers of thousands.