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One Month Later, a Longshot Search for a Survivor in Beirut

Rescuers detect a pulsing signal from rubble of Aug. 4 explosion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 3, 2020 2:09 PM CDT

(Newser) – 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, raising hopes there may be a survivor still buried there, per the AP. The effort unfolded after a sniffer dog belonging to a Chilean search and rescue team detected something as the team was going through Gemmayzeh Street in Beirut, 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.

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“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. 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. As night fell, rescue workers set up light projectors to work through the darkness. The Lebanese Red Cross set up a tent nearby. Every now and then, the Chilean team asked people on the streets, including a crowd of journalists watching the operation, to turn off their mobiles and stay quiet for five minutes so as not to interfere with the sounds being detected by their instruments.

(Read more Beirut stories.)

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