Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was on life support after undergoing a nine-hour surgery for a “far-reaching” stroke and a massive brain hemorrhage. Sharon’s vital signs showed “functional and stable” levels, but his condition remained critical, said Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah University Hospital. Unconfirmed rumors swirled around the news media that the prime minister had died in the morning. Should he survive, damage is expected to be severe and many assume Sharon will never return to politics. Sharon was scheduled for heart surgery today, but was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday night after feeling ill. Finance Minster Ehud Olmert, acting prime minister, held an emergency cabinet meeting to signal the transfer of powers. Shares on the Tel Aviv stock exchange plummeted and the shekel sank against the dollar 1.6 percent. In the Picture: Sharon and Olmert at their last Meeting yesterday in Jerusalem.