LebanonMiddle East

One Month after Beirut Deadly Blast, Rescue Workers Renew Hope for Survivors

Rescuers resumed a search Friday for possible survivors under rubble in Beirut, a month after a monster blast ripped through the city’s port.

The cataclysmic August 4 explosion killed a total of 191 people, making it Lebanon’s deadliest peacetime disaster. One month on, seven people are still listed as missing.

Hopes emerged on Thursday that one of them could still be found alive after a specialist sensor device detected a heart beat under the debris of a flattened building.

Crews of rescue workers from Chile and Lebanon used their hands on Friday to lift chunks of rubble from the site between the hard-hit districts of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhail.

They resumed their efforts after pausing briefly overnight, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

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

The pulse they detected on Friday had already slowed significantly compared to a previous recording, said Nicholas Saade, who coordinates between the Chilean and Lebanese rescuers.

“After removing the big chunks we scanned again for heartbeats or respiration, it showed low beat/respiration” levels of seven per minute, he told AFP.

“The reading before was about 16 to 18,” he added.

The area excavated by rescuers was among the hardest hit by the blast that was so powerful it was heard in Cyprus, some 240 kilometres (150 miles) away.

The explosion ravaged swathes of Beirut and piled on new misery for Lebanese already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

A sniffer dog deployed by Chilean rescuers on Wednesday night had responded to a scent from the site of a collapsed building in Gemmayzeh, Beirut governor Marwan Abboud said.

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