Rescue workers said there was no sign of life in a collapsed building in Beirut on Saturday. Hopes were raised by sensor readings showing a pulse under the rubble of last month’s explosion.
At least 191 people were killed in the catastrophic explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4th. This made Lebanon the deadliest disaster in peacetime. A month later, seven people are still reported missing.
On Wednesday evening, a sniffer dog used by Chilean rescuers discovered a smell under a collapsed building in the heavily damaged Gemmayzeh district next to the port.
High-tech sensors confirmed an obvious heartbeat and rescue teams began the search.
But after three days of work removing piles of masonry, the Chilean rescue specialist Francesco Lermanda said late Saturday that there was no longer any sign of life under the rubble.
“Unfortunately we can say today that technically we have no sign of life in the building,” he told the media.
Two female rescue workers slipped through a final tunnel on Saturday to look for victims in the final air pocket where no one could possibly be found, he said.
However, the work would continue the zone’s security and ensure that no victim can be left inside, Lermanda said.
In the afternoon, engineer Riyadh al-Assad said the workers had cleared two layers of rubble and reached a staircase where they could not find anyone.
The civil protection agency’s chief of operations, George Abou Moussa, said the morning the chances of finding anyone alive were “very slim”.
However, civil defense officer Qassem Khater said his team was determined not to give up.
“We don’t leave the site until we’ve overcome the rubble, even if a new building is about to collapse,” he said.
The Chilean specialist Walter Munoz had estimated the chance of finding a survivor at “two percent” that morning.
Lebanese officials had downplayed the chances that someone would survive under the rubble for that long.
But even the faint hope of a miracle caught the imagination of a country already hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
“I didn’t realize I needed such a miracle. Please God, give Beirut this miracle it deserves,” said Selim Mourad, a 32-year-old filmmaker.
Lebanon lacks the tools and expertise to carry out advanced search and rescue operations. Therefore, they were supported by experts from Chile, France and the United States.
The Chileans in particular have been lauded on social media by many Lebanese people who have compared their expertise to the poor performance of their own absent state.
The country observed a minute’s silence for the dead on Friday.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)