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Sharon still in coma


JERUSALEM, Jan 15 (AFP): Ariel Sharon remained in a coma Saturday 10 days after a massive stroke amid increasing worries over his health, as cabinet colleagues prepared to approve Palestinian voting in annexed east Jerusalem.
Public radio described the premier's condition as "on the edge of the abyss", leaving Israelis increasingly resigned to a future without the man who has long dominated politics in the Jewish state and the wider Middle East.
An official update from the spokesman of the Hadassah hospital where Sharon is being treated said that he remained "serious but stable" and did not announce that he had come round.
For several days the surgical team has been weaning the 77-year- old Sharon off the drugs that placed him in an artificial coma, and the radio said his continued failure to respond meant it would now be a "miracle" if a man of his age regained consciousness.
"The longer time passes, the more his chances of regaining consciousness weaken and near zero," the radio said, citing medical sources.
"Doctors believe it would now be a miracle for him to come round and we are still on the edge of the abyss."
Hospital spokesman Ron Krumer was much less downbeat in his statement but did not deny the radio's report.
"His vital signs such as pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature are normal and stable," Krumer told the news agency.
He added that tests carried out since doctors removed a tube inserted into his skull to help drain the residue of blood from his haemorrhage Friday had found no enlargement of his brain and detected activity in both sides.