Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


Rescuer: Signs of life detected under rubble a month after Beirut blast

Enlarge this image Enlarge this image
Bennie Garza | 04 September, 2020, 13:11

The rescue team was setting up floodlights at the site as the sun set.

The authorities said it was caused by about 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stacked in unsafe conditions in a port warehouse for years.

The blast smashed entire neighbourhoods, gutting buildings and injuring 6,000 people.

On Thursday, Lebanon's army said it found 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate near the entrance to Beirut's port, the site of a huge blast last month that was caused by a 2,750 tonne stockpile of the same highly explosive chemical.

After hours of searching the work briefly stopped following sunset before some protesters arrived at the scene claiming the Lebanese army had asked the Chilean team to stop the search.

Damage to homes and infrastructure has been estimated at $4.6 billion.

"Ninety-nine percent there isn't anything, but even if there is less than 1 percent hope, we should keep on looking", civil defense worker, Youssef Malah told local media, adding that the work was extremely sensitive. 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.

Meanwhile, according to the military, army experts were called in for an inspection and found 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in four containers stored near the port.

It said army experts were "dealing with the material", suggesting it was being destroyed.

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

Lebanon, already mired in an economic crisis before the August 4 port blast laid waste to swathes of the capital, is not equipped for disaster management.

The army later said these containers were moved and stored safely in locations away from the port.

French experts as well as the FBI have taken part in the investigation into the August 4 blast, at the request of Lebanese authorities. Their findings have yet to be released.

Much of Beirut lies in ruins after a massive explosion last month, and the city's port - through which three quarters of the country's imports and exports by sea pass - is completely devastated.

Daher had met with aide to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who plans to visit Beirut on September 8.

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