Rescuers search Beirut rubble for second day after pulse detected

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Emergency workers search a collapsed building in Beirut, Lebanon.
Emergency workers search a collapsed building in Beirut, Lebanon.
Marwan Tahtah/Getty Images
  • Sensors had detected on Thursday signs of a pulse and breathing in the rubble where a blast destroyed buildings in Beirut.
  • Rescuers were digging through the rubble in the hope of finding someone alive.
  • The blast which happened on 4 August killed about 190 people and injured 6 000.


Rescue workers dug through the rubble of a Beirut building for a second day on Friday in the hope of finding someone alive more than a month after it was destroyed by a huge port explosion that shattered the Lebanese capital.

But by early evening on Friday, rescue workers including a search and rescue team from Chile, had not found anyone in the debris in the Gemmayze area, where sensors had on Thursday detected signs of a pulse and breathing.

Gemmayze and the neighbouring Mar Mikhael district were among the areas hardest hit by the 4 August explosion at the nearby port, which was caused by massive amounts of badly stored ammonium nitrate.

The blast killed about 190 people and injured 6 000, in a nation already crippled by economic crisis. Church bells and the call to prayer from mosques sounded in Beirut to honour those killed a month earlier. The authorities also held ceremonies.

Citing its correspondent, Lebanese broadcaster MTV said the machine used to detect breathing had been moved three times without detecting breathing. A dog brought by the specialist Chilean team was also taking part in the effort.

Mechanical diggers lifted chunks of concrete and masonry as workers used shovels and their hands to dig. A crane and mechanical digger helped lift steel girders and other heavy debris from the ruins.

Residents gathered nearby, hoping someone could be found, while some said the government had not done enough to help.

"The government has been completely complacent, has been completely absent," said Stephanie Bou Chedid, a volunteer from a group helping victims of the blast.

President Michel Aoun followed up on the operation in a phone call with the head of the civil defence, the presidency said.

Near the site, Mohamed Houry, 65, said he hoped someone was found alive but, even if only bodies were uncovered, "it's important their families can find peace".

The explosion ripped through a swathe of the capital, shattering districts such as Gemmayze, home to many old, traditional buildings, some of which crumbled in the shockwave.

The building being searched once housed a bar on its ground floor.

Rescuers used scanning equipment to create 3D images of the wreckage to try to locate anyone alive, local television images showed.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3703 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2524 votes
No, I don't think they need it
37% - 3591 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.06
(-0.01)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(-0.13)
ZAR/EUR
18.13
(+0.23)
ZAR/AUD
11.73
(-0.26)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(+0.50)
Gold
1714.74
(+0.25)
Silver
26.01
(+0.04)
Platinum
1159.50
(+0.43)
Brent Crude
63.94
(+2.19)
Palladium
2364.00
(+1.09)
All Share
67976.38
(-0.51)
Top 40
62478.84
(-0.61)
Financial 15
12700.61
(+1.03)
Industrial 25
88295.32
(-1.54)
Resource 10
69352.23
(+0.18)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo