World

Beirut explosion: Seek continues for conceivable survivor

media captionRescuers remove rubble in the hope of finding someone alive

Rescue workers in Beirut are continuing to search through the rubble for a potential survivor of the explosion that devastated the city one month ago.

Search efforts began after specialist sensor equipment found possible signs of life, spurring hopes for a miracle.

Rescuers said they could not confirm if someone was alive under the building until they had completed the search.

Beirut held a minute’s silence on Friday to mark a month since the explosion, which killed almost 200.

Thousands more were injured by the blast, which happened when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonated.

  • How long can survivors last under rubble?

There has been outrage that so much hazardous material was stored unsafely in a warehouse in the city’s port, close to many residential areas.

The Lebanese government’s resignation shortly afterwards failed to pacify protesters, who clashed with police in the city for several nights.

One month on, seven people are still missing, according to Lebanese officials.

What’s happening with the search?

Search efforts got underway after a rescue team from Chile said it had detected possible signs of life under a destroyed building in Beirut’s Gemmayze area.

The rescuers were walking through the area on Wednesday night when their sniffer dog – trained to find bodies – gave a sign that there was a person inside. When they returned on Thursday, the dog went to the same place and gave the same sign. Specialist sensor equipment then detected a pulsing signal in the area.

According to a local source, the team’s highly sensitive equipment can detect breathing at a depth of 15m (49ft).

Chilean and Lebanese rescuers are working together to clear rubble from the site, as crowds of people watch, hoping for a miracle.

Onlookers

image captionPeople at the scene are hoping for a miraculous story of survival

Rescue coordinator Nicholas Saade told AFP on Friday that the pulse had slowed significantly since the previous day.

“It showed low beat/respiration levels of seven per minute. The reading before was about 16 to 18,” he said.

A test later on Friday detected no signals, according to reporters at the scene.

Speaking to the press on Friday, the head of the Chilean rescue team said he could not confirm if someone was alive or dead in the rubble until the work was completed.

Francisco Lermanda said rescuers have dug three tunnels to try to reach the site where the pulse signals were detected, EFE news agency reports.

Rescue workers have previously said there may also be a dead body under the rubble of the building.

“We have excavated rubble but we haven’t reached a conclusion yet,” George Abou Moussa of Lebanon’s civil defence told AFP earlier on Friday.

Rescue workers said they would continue the search into the evening and offer more details later.

More on the explosion in Beirut

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