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A miracle? Possible heartbeat in Beirut blast rubble detected

PortandTerminal.com, September 3, 2020

A pulsing signal was detected Thursday from under the rubble of a Beirut building that collapsed during the horrific port explosion in the Lebanese capital last month

BEIRUT – Associated Press and BBC are both reporting that a heartbeat has been detected in the rubble of the Beirut port blast nearly a month after it occurred. Although seemingly impossible, hopes have been raised that there may be a survivor still buried under the rubble of the building where it detected.

The effort unfolded after the sniffer dog belonging to the Chilean search and rescue team first detected something as the team was going through Gemmayzeh Street in Beirut and rushed toward the rubble of a building. The street was one of the hardest-hit in the Aug. 4 explosion.

The team then used audio detection equipment for signals or heartbeat, and detected what could be a pulse of 18 to 19 beats per minute. The origin of the pulsing signal was not immediately known but it set off a frantic search and raised new hope.

It is extremely unlikely that any survivors would be found a month after the blast that tore through Beirut in August when nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate ignited at the port. The explosion killed 191 people and injured 6,000 others and is considered to be one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded. Thousands of homes were damaged.

“Ninety-nine percent there isn’t anything, but even if there is less than 1% hope, we should keep on looking,” said Youssef Malah, a civil defense worker. He said his men would continue working throughout the night, adding that the work was extremely sensitive.

A Chilean volunteer, however, said their equipment identifies breathing and heartbeat from humans, not animals, and it detected a sign of a human. The worker who identified himself as Francesco Lermonda said it is rare, but not unheard of, for someone to survive under the rubble for a month.

The past few weeks have been extremely hot in Lebanon, including a current heat wave with high levels of humidity.

As night fell, rescue workers set up light projectors to work through the darkness. The Lebanese Red Cross set up a tent nearby.

More explosive material discovered

In other developments in Beirut, Lebanon’s army said on Thursday it had found another 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate near the entrance to Beirut port, the site of a huge blast last month caused by a large stockpile of the same highly explosive chemical.

Army engineers were “dealing with it,” according to an army statement carried by the state news agency NNA. The statement said the chemicals were found outside entrance nine to the port.

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