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Israeli PM Sharon in critical condition

Doctors say they have succeeded in stopping bleeding in Israeli PM's brain.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2006 19:58 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was back in the operation theatre fighting for his life on Thursday after already undergoing six hours of major surgery to treat massive bleeding in the brain.

The 77-year-old premier was in "serious" condition according to his doctors in Jerusalem who said they succeeded in stopping the heavy bleeding in his brain.

After the first-stage operation, a CT scan was conducted and Sharon was returned to the operating theatre for what was described by doctors as a difficult procedure that will last some hours.

Later on Wednesday, Sharon was taken to hospital by ambulance in Jerusalem from his home in southern Israel after complaining that he was feeling unwell.

Sharon was fully conscious and sitting up as he was wheeled on a stretcher into the hospital around 11 pm, and his condition apparently deteriorated dramatically.

Under Israeli law, Sharon's prime ministerial powers and duties were transferred to his deputy, Ehud Olmert, who becomes acting premier with full authority in all matters.

The stroke Sharon suffered on Wednesday night comes less than three weeks after he suffered a minor stroke, which doctors said caused no lasting damage, and the day before he was scheduled to undergo a 30- to 45-minute catheterisation procedure to close a small hole in his heart.

At the time of the stroke, Sharon was running for re-election in Israel's scheduled on March 28 elections. The new Kadima party, which he founded after walking out on the hawkish Likud party, has been leading in opinion polls, but the party centres on and is dominated by Sharon, and it is unclear how his current state of health will affect its fortunes.

Campaigning took a back seat as Sharon's political allies and rivals rushed to wish him a full recovery.

Israel's chief rabbis called on Jews to pray for Sharon's health.

Palestinian Authority Deputy Premier Nabil Shaath said on Thursday that Sharon could be hard to replace.

"I don't think that there will be another leader among the Israelis like Sharon, although his deputy, Ehud Olmert, and his thoughts are very close to Sharon's mind," said Shaath.

In Washington, US President George W Bush was informed of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke, and the White House was monitoring the situation, spokesman Scott McClellan said.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 05:11 IST

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