Monday, March 1, 2021

Signs of life under Beirut rubble, a month after devastating blast

A member of the rescue team says the pulse and breathing near the ground floor of the collapsed building most likely come from a child.

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A Chilean rescue team says it has detected signs of life underneath the rubble of a building that collapsed in the massive explosion that tore through Beirut one month ago.

A member of the rescue team told Al Jazeera that one of their scanners had discovered signs of a pulse and breathing near the ground floor of the collapsed building.

He said it most likely came from a child.

The Aug 4 explosion that killed 191 people and injured more than 6,000, destroyed much of Lebanon’s capital, leaving thousands homeless.

Official search-and-rescue efforts have long since been called off.

The Chilean volunteers were inspecting streets in the capital as part of a mission to secure buildings before reconstruction begins.

One of their search dogs ran towards a building and alerted them to a human presence.

Rescue workers repeatedly silenced the large crowd to enable their sensor to probe for signs of life.

For many Lebanese, the volunteer-led efforts are just the latest example of state failure, both in the lead-up to the explosion – caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate haphazardly stored at the Beirut port for almost seven years – and in the explosion’s aftermath.

“Honestly this is why we all walk around believing something else is gonna blow us up. Their incompetence is stunning,” Lebanese activist Bissan Fakih said in a tweet, referring to the country’s rulers.

Edward Bitar, a member of NGO Live Love Lebanon working with the Chilean team, said their sensor had detected 18 breath cycles per minute emanating from under the rubble.

“We are trying not to get too hopeful,” he said. “If someone is found alive under all that wreckage after a month, it would truly be a miracle.”

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