By Adnan Abidi and Sunil Kataria
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A 15-year-old boy was pulled out alive from the collapsed ruins of Kathmandu's Hilton Hotel on Thursday and is recovering in hospital, five days after a huge earthquake caused devastation across Nepal and killed nearly 5,500 people.
Survivor Pema Lama was rescued by Nepal's Armed Police Force and was put in a neck brace and carried on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. Hundreds of onlookers broke into applause when they saw that the teenager was alive.
Lama was conscious, held the hand of one of his rescuers and looked toward a large group of photographers and television news crews as he was brought to safety, a Reuters photographer at the scene said.
"When the quake came, I got hit on my chin and when I tried to come out I was trapped. I was on the ground (floor) only. We were eating while the earthquake came," Lama told reporters at a nearby field hospital.
A doctor who treated Lama said he was "surprisingly well" and was expected to make a good recovery.
"Being five days without food without water, it was amazing the way he (has) survived. We gave him some fluid, we gave him some energy, like fluid, like sugar," said Eran Tal Or, a senior doctor at Israeli Field Hospital.
Lama's rescue is a rare moment of joy for a country overwhelmed by the disaster. Officials said on Thursday that the chances of finding more survivors were fading, particularly in hard-hit rural areas where aid has yet to reach.
The teenager's rescuer, Nepali police official L.B. Basnet, told reporters at the site that the boy had spoken to him in the rubble and asked for water.
Afterwards, members of the security forces hoisted Basnet onto their shoulders to more cheers from the onlooking crowd.
Several bodies were found in the rubble of the hotel on Thursday, where heavy rain earlier in the day had hampered rescue efforts.
(Writing by Tommy Wilkes and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Jeremy Laurence)