Rescue workers may have found another ‘heartbeat’ under the rubble left when an explosion rocked the Port of Beirut last month – raising fresh hopes a buried survivor might still be alive after the blast.
Search operations began on Thursday afternoon after a sniffer dog belonging to a Chilean search and rescue team detected something as the team was going through the neighbourhood of Gemmayzeh and rushed towards the rubble.
On Thursday, the team used audio detection equipment for signals or heartbeat, and detected what could be a pulse of 18 to 19 beats per minute.
Last night, a month after the blast tore through Beirut, unconfirmed social media reports suggest the Chilean search team have now found an additional heartbeat under the debris.
Volunteers dig through the rubble of buildings which collapsed due to the explosion at the port area, after signs of life were detected, in Gemmayze, Beirut this morning
Chilean rescue dog Flash, walks near collapsed buildings from last month’s massive port blast in Gemmayze, Beirut, Lebanon September 4, 2020
‘The #ToposChile team just ran a test and breathing was confirmed. Digging into the rubble continues. Some new reports are that it may be two children-most likely flower vendors,’ Maya Yahya, the director of Carnegie Middle East, wrote on Twitter, citing a TV report from AlJadeed News.
Salman Andary, of Sky News, wrote in Arabic on Twitter that the rescue team’s sensors had detected a heartbeat again under the blast wreckage.
‘Chilean team finished the process and were able to, once again, find a person’s breath under the rubble,’ Andary said, adding that the process took 40 minutes and the ‘heartbeat’ was scanned several times.
Rescue workers continued to dig through the rubble of a Beirut building for a third day this morning.
About 50 rescue workers and volunteers, including a specialist team from Chile, had yet to locate anyone after sensors on Thursday detected the signs of breathing and heat.
Volunteers and a member of the Chilean rescue team dig through the rubble of buildings which collapsed due to the explosion at the port area, after signs of life were detected, in Gemmayze, Beirut, Lebanon this morning
Rescuers search at the site of a collapsed building after getting signals there may be a survivor under the rubble, in Beirut, Lebanon this morning. A pulsing signal was detected Thursday from under the debris of a Beirut building that collapsed during the horrific port explosion in the Lebanese capital last month, raising hopes there may be a survivor still buried there
Fires were still burning at the destroyed port following the blast as the full extent of the devastation – in a country that was already in the midst of an economic crisis – was laid bare
They said they would continue while there was a small chance of finding a survivor, and had narrowed their search.
‘Always in search operations like this, you can neither lose hope nor absolutely say there is hope,’ George Abou Moussa, director of operations in Lebanon’s civil defence, told Reuters.
The Aug. 4 blast killed about 190 people, injured 6,000 more and devastated whole neighborhoods. The authorities held ceremonies on Friday to mark a month since the explosion tore into a city already reeling from a crippling economic crisis.
Rescue efforts dominated local and social media, as the Lebanese were transfixed, desperate for some good news.
Anti government protesters light candles in front of the martyrs statue during a moment of silence to mark one month of Beirut port explosion, in front the Beirut’s port, Lebanon yesterday
The ruined building where the search was continuing lies between the residential districts of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael, among the hardest hit areas by the blast and home to many old buildings that crumbled as the shockwave ripped through.
Work was slow, rescue workers said, as the badly damaged building was at risk of collapse.
‘The building is really crumbling, it’s scary and there’s a lot of danger to the team,’ Abou Moussa said.
Workers were using shovels and their hands to dig, while mechanical diggers and a crane lifted heavy debris.
Emmanuel Durand, a French civil engineer who was training local university students, volunteered his services and was working with the rescuers to monitor the structure.
Scanning the building with high-precision lasers, Durand said his team had so far not found any signs of movement.