Beirut explosion: ‘No signs of life’ after hopes raised in rubble


No signs of life have been found in the rubble of a building in Beirut, despite earlier hopes that a survivor could be found.

The search began on Thursday afternoon after a sniffer dog detected something in the Gemmayze area of the Lebanese capital.

Audio detection equipment had detected a pulse of 18 to 19 beats per minute, sparking hope someone could be alive.

However, on Friday morning, it was reported that the signal had decreased to seven.

Rescuers had said it suggested someone could be alive or in a coma – or it could just be an object emitting a signal.

Around 50 rescue workers and volunteers, including a specialist team from Chile, continued to dig through the rubble for a third day on Saturday.

They narrowed their search, vowing to carry on, despite there being only a small chance of finding a survivor.

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They used thermal imaging and scanning equipment as rescue teams removed debris, digging with their hands and shovels, careful not to cause further injury to any survivors.

Blast site in Beirut
The blast in Beirut killed about 190 people and injured thousands

“Always in search operations like this, you can neither lose hope nor absolutely say there is hope,” said George Abou Moussa, director of operations in Lebanon’s civil defence.

Almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate set off the explosion that tore through Beirut on 4 August in one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts ever recorded.

It killed about 190 people, injured 6,000, and devastated whole neighbourhoods.

Chilean rescue team confirms they have found no signs of life in the rubble
A Chilean rescue team confirmed they found no signs of life in the rubble

The building the searchers were focused on is between the residential districts of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael, which were among the hardest hit by the blast.

The area is home to many old buildings that crumbled as the shockwave ripped through, and the search had to be halted briefly on Thursday due to concerns about the unstable structure.

It was inspected by the army and two cranes were brought in so it could be removed.

Paper lanterns in the shape of a Lebanese flag mark one month since the city's deadly explosion
Paper lanterns in the shape of a Lebanese flag marked one month since the explosion

Ceremonies were held on Friday to mark a month since the explosion tore into a city already reeling from a crippling economic crisis.

A Syrian refugee family sit in the ruins of their building, destroyed by the explosion in Beirut

Beirut explosion: One month on

Days after last month’s blast, more than 20 containers of ammonium nitrate were found at the port and moved to safe locations.

On Thursday, the army said it had found another 4.35 tonnes of the chemical compound in four containers near the port, which are being investigated.

A total of 25 people have being detained over the explosion, most of them port or customs officials.

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