Rescuers find no Beirut rubble survivors

The Chilean rescue team that has been searching for a possible missing survivor from last month’s Beirut port blast for the past three days said there was no sign of life.

“We have checked 95 per cent of the building, and the only part that is missing is the sidewalk, which is also full of rubble,” said Francisco Lermanda, the leader of the Chilean “Topos” rescue team.

“There could be a dead body, but we haven’t found it.”


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He said that two workers had gone down through a tunnel, allowing them to finally dismiss the suspicion that someone was inside.

Chilean and Lebanese rescue teams have been searching the rubble of an old building that collapsed as a result of an August blast in Beirut port that left hundreds dead and devastated much of the city.

Local officials note that the building had been abandoned even before the blast.

Hopes for finding a survivor under the rubble were kindled on Thursday when Chilean rescue workers and their sniffer dog detected a sign of life from under the rubble of the building in Gemmayze.

The dog, Flash, worked at the site in the morning but was injured during the mission and had to rest in the afternoon, Lermanda said.

“Yesterday we discovered at 3 in the morning a new exhalation. Afterwards we realized that this exhalation was of our own rescue people,” he said.

Earlier Saturday, Lebanese engineer Riad al-Assad, who is also working with the Chilean team, said the Chileans had done a test with their machines and “they could hear a respiratory signal again.”

The search had to go at a slow pace because the building where it was being conducted was badly damaged, said George Abu Mousa, head of operations at the Lebanese civil defence agency.

“We cannot use heavy equipment for fear of a total collapse,” he told dpa.

Beirut was devastated on August 4 by a powerful explosion at the city’s port. It killed some 190 people and injured 6,000 others.

The huge explosion that ripped through the Beirut was triggered by a large quantity of the highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which had been poorly stored in a warehouse at the facility.

On Thursday, the Lebanese army said it had found a new 4.35 tons of ammonium nitrate near the entrance of the Beirut port.

The army said on Saturday that the substance was removed. The military added in a statement that its engineering units “detonated it in the army’s detonation fields.”

© DPA 2020